PSC presses Ramotar for fair party access to audiovisual media
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has called on President Donald Ramotar to urgently consider measures for equitable access of all political parties in the running to public and private radio and television stations during the next election period .
Following a meeting with print and broadcast media editors yesterday, the PSC also called for transparency by media entities for the spots and spaces that will be made available for political advertising and for transparency in the pricing of these allowances.
For years, opposition parties have complained about being virtually excluded from the state-run NCN, even for paid ads. The issue has also been raised by international and local observation missions in past elections. Equitable media access by all parties was also cited by the United States, United Kingdom and Canada in January as recommended improvements for the electoral process.
The PSC wrote to Ramotar, who is Minister of Information, its recommendations on March 19 and President Ramesh Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday that the letter had been recognized by the president’s office, but that there had no response to the recommendations.
In the letter, a copy of which was sent to Guyana’s National Broadcasting Authority chairman Bibi Shadick, the PSC said it was fully involved in ensuring that the next ballots are free and fair and that it has met with United Nations agencies, diplomatic missions, the OAS and various other stakeholders involved in election monitoring.
“In all our meetings, the issue of equitable access to radio and television, both public and private, for political advertising and party electoral broadcasting has been raised as a priority to ensure fair elections,” a- he said, while adding that he determined that there is a need for a clear and defined policy and requirements governing broadcasting licensees.
To this end, the PSC called on Ramotar to “urgently resolve” the matter and suggested that he review the regulations of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa regarding regulations governing party election broadcasts and political advertisements during the election period.
Under the Broadcasting Act, the Minister of Information is empowered to pass subsidiary laws, such as recommended regulations, but Ramotar would be unable to do so in the absence of Parliament, which has been dissolved.
The PSC informed Ramotar that the South African Broadcast Authority states that the purpose of the Regulations “is to prescribe the framework and guidelines under which the BPLs of party election broadcasts and PAs of political advertisements are to be conducted and executed by the Service Licensee (BSL) in the national and provisional election.
In addition, the requirements for state and private licensees with regard to their party’s electoral broadcast and the distinctions between PEBs and PAs are specifically defined. He further noted that the legislation specifically deals with the allocation of airtime for party election broadcasts based on a formula for the representation of political parties in Parliament as well as the regulation of political advertising. in the public and private media.
The legislation addresses the filing of complaints with the Authority, compliance with regulations and penalties for violations, he added.
“We are of the opinion that this regulation can be easily and easily adapted for implementation by the Guyana Broadcasting Authority under the Broadcasting Act and wish to recommend this course of action for your urgent consideration,” said he said in the letter.
“We attach a copy of the South African regulations for your information and look forward to your favorable consideration of our recommendations,” he added.
Sources have pointed out that although regulations cannot be published to address these issues, Ramotar, as Minister of Information, may seek to order all broadcasters, public and private, to allocate time in such a manner. fair under the terms of their broadcast license.
Meanwhile, the PSC, accompanied by representatives of the United Nations Development Program in Guyana, met yesterday with editors-in-chief of the print and broadcast media.
In a statement subsequently released, the PSC said it was during this engagement that it shared its “belief” that all political parties contesting the upcoming elections “should have fair and equitable access to all elections. media entities ”for paid political advertisements and party election broadcasts. . “In this regard, the Commission calls for transparency on the part of media entities of the spots and spaces that will be made available for political advertising and for transparency in the pricing of these allowances”, he added.
The Commonwealth Observer Group, in its final report on the general and regional elections of November 28, 2011, noted that the lack of independence and impartiality of the media remained a problem and singled out television, radio and the press written state owned. to the Media Monitoring Unit showed a clear bias in favor of the ruling party in its coverage and reporting. “The state media were not the only ones providing unbalanced reporting, but the bias of state media was excessive,” the report said, while stressing that state media have a responsibility to serve people. interests of all citizens, “especially as in some in some parts of the country, this is the only media available.
The Commonwealth has said that due to media bias and the resources available to the incumbent, the playing field was not level enough for the campaign. “While the development of codes of conduct for parties and media is welcomed, it is not enough that they are simply signed by stakeholders. They must also be respected, ”the Commonwealth said in its report.
The PSC also said yesterday it was concerned about reports of harassment, intimidation and threats against media agents covering political events and called on all political parties and their supporters to Respect all members of the media and ensure the safety of these officers at all times. He urged that all accredited members of the media be granted free and unimpeded access to all public gatherings and other political events.
The PSC also expressed deep concern over the current “rhetoric” of political activists from their platforms and condemned any language equivalent to inciting and spreading hatred among citizens. In this regard, the Commission also called on all political parties to facilitate the rapid adoption of the Code of Conduct for Political Parties and to comply with its principles and the envisaged philosophy.