Tuesday, October 20, 2009

NFMU not taking any more radio licence applications

NFMU not taking any more radio licence applications

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 19, 2009 @ 5:11 am In Local News | 13 Comments

The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU) is no longer receiving applications for radio licences following the Court of Appeal’s announcement last Wednesday that the government has an unlawful monopoly on the airwaves and that the NFMU is not doing its job with respect to considering radio licences.

This announcement was made in a notice carried on page nine in yesterday’s edition of the Guyana Times. It said: “Notice is hereby given that in view of the recent court ruling on radio licenses and the number of applications for radio licenses currently on file, the National Frequency Management Unit will not be accepting any further applications for radio licenses, with effect from October 18, 2009.” The notice seemed to imply that consideration of the licence applications on file will begin shortly.

In a landmark ruling, the Court led by Chancellor (ag) Carl Singh and comprising Justices of Appeal B.S. Roy and Yonette Cummings-Edwards allowed an appeal filed by local television pioneer Anthony Vieira on behalf of VCT ruling that VCT’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom to receive and communicate ideas and information was contravened.. Ironically, Vieira has since sold his TV station to the Ramroop Group, publishers of the Guyana Times, and has migrated.

VCT had applied for a radio licence since 1993 and the court said last Wednesday that both the government and the NFMU failed to acknowledge receipt of the application. VCT had asked that the court order the NFMU to issue it with a radio licence forthwith but the Court said there are technicalities involved in making such a decision, noting that it lacks the expertise to make such an evaluation. It said the NFMU is the entity which is well placed to make such an evaluation, and it called on the unit to “do its job”. However, the court did direct the NFMU to consider and determine VCT’s application for a radio broadcast license.

Now days after the Court of Appeal called on NFMU to carry out its duty the body has announced that it will no longer be receiving applications for radio licences. While the NFMU used the number of applications on file to support this decision it did not state for how long this condition will exist.

Chief Executive Officer of NFMU, Valmikki Singh, could not be reached yesterday for a comment.
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