|Timing of Sharma suspension not premeditated - Jagdeo||| Print ||
|Written by Kwesi Isles|
|Tuesday, 04 October 2011 17:53|
President Bharrat Jagdeo has sought to dismiss opposition charges that the timing of the suspension of CNS TV6 was a political decision ahead of the impending general and regional elections, saying it arose from the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting (ACB) recommendation.
Jagdeo told reporters on Tuesday that the ACB had recommended that CNS TV6 be suspended “for at least six months” and he was in receipt of that recommendation since June despite Sharma’s move to the court to block him from receiving it.
Elections are constitutionally due by December 28.
“I could have done it a few months ago and then it won’t have been an issue of timing. This never entered my head, this timing issue because I could have written him a letter two months ago when the matter came before me and say you’re suspended for six months or eight months and then the timing would have been the same issue,” Jagdeo stated.
The suspension stemmed from the broadcasting of a commentary by Tony Vieira in which he made remarks about the religious community and Bishop Juan Edghill who has since sued him and the television station. The ACB became involved as it constituted a broadcasting breach.
“The content was intended to incite religious intolerance, was to disparage religious values in this country, which is reprehensible to our constitution, the laws of Guyana, you can be charged for this, and more particularly to the licence,” the president said.
“The laws of our country say, particularly in this season, if you use race or religion or gender to mobilise people you could be disbarred from running for elections. I’m not tolerating any attempt to divide our people by race or religion, election season or no election season. That was the crux of the issue, that’s why they recommended six months,” he added.
According to Jagdeo, he thought the opposition members would have been on the side of rights and bringing people together.
“I thought they would be on the side of the group who would say let us stop this in its track, people using the TV stations and radio and everything else to stir enmity among people of different religious persuasion. They should have been on my side on this matter because we need to send strong signals to those who try to stir up problems between faiths and within the faiths.”
Jagdeo said that he could understand the opposition’s need to rally around the CN Sharma suspension as a freedom of the press issue because they were without a cause.
The major opposition entities, AFC and APNU, were both using CNS TV6 to get their elections message out to the people. The AFC has said that the suspension is a serious blow to their efforts while the APNU said they will have to look at all means open to them.
Addressing the length of the suspension, Jagdeo stated that he had been inclined to impose an eight-month ban but added that the Sharmas’ pleaded for leniency.
“I said what do you think is reasonable, Savitree Sharma said four months, CN Sharma then said two months and I said could you excuse me let me consult with my people because I would have been going below the recommendation of the ACB which I did,” Jagdeo said.
CNS TV6 went off air at 6 PM Monday and the opposition parties and civil society groups have since come together to hold a vigil outside the station’s Robb and Wellington Streets location with several other activities planned for this week.
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