Sharma Solomon (left) and Pastor Morris Mc Kinnon

By Jacquey Bourne

Despite readiness by the Region Ten Broadcasting Inc. to flip the switch of the new TV station there are complaints by some stakeholders in the Region of not being included.
The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) has recommended that the Board of trustees be expanded. This recommendation along with others was made by Chairman of the GNBA, Leonard Craig.
He reiterated that the Trust is the official, recognized agency of the station. Instead of forming a new Trust, it was recommended that it be extended.
“The GNBA advice to the group was to expand the number of trustees, so we can continue to do business with the same Trust rather than upturn the entire apple cart and start over.”
The television station’s Trust was formed by Sharma Solomon during his tenure as Regional Chairman after realizing that the law does not allow for a television station to be controlled by an RDC or an individual, but only by a Trust or a company.
The policy also states that any member of the community to be part owner of the station should be residing in Linden or be people within the community.
Mr. Leonard Craig told media operatives that without the formation of the Trust, the application for an operating license would not have even been considered.
“The Trust adequately represents the intent of the RDC to fulfill that requirement, so we did business with the Trust.”
The GNBA also recommended that it consists of the ordinary people of Linden and representatives from the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), since the RDC is the entity that initiated the process.
Mr. Craig however said that he is not aware if the members added included anyone from the RDC.
Regional Chairman Renis Morian had previously told members of the media that he will continue to rally for councilors of the RDC to be part of the Trust.
“Based on the new truths that have emerged, the RDC who is the legal representation of the people, will champion the cause of going forward.” “We want the people of Region Ten to have this television station; hence the elected persons should be part of this entity.”
Mr. Craig reiterated that those recommendations were made with the interest of the people of Linden at heart.
“The people of Linden can be assured that their interest is being taken care of and that the GNBA is very interested in helping to preserve the interest of the people. We have no desire to circumvent anything and we are willing to work with the people.”
During a press briefing yesterday, former Regional Chairman Sharma Solomon, who is also the Secretary of the trust said the saga surrounding the right to information, free speech and independent media in Linden/Region Ten continues.
He said the current situation with the Linden television station is one that resulted from an agreement with the PPP/C-led government on August 21, 2012, following a long, hard and brutal struggle that culminated in the loss of lives of Shemroy Bouyea, Allan Lewis and Ron Somerset and injuries to many others.
According to Solomon the history of the Linden television ownership goes back to Green Construction Company gifting it to the Linden community, which was managed by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) on behalf of the people.
“Since then Guyana’s broadcasting laws evolved. There is a Broadcasting Act stipulating ownership of television and how licences are awarded. Compliant with these, the previous Regional Administration headed by (Sharma Solomon), created a company called the Region Ten Broadcasting Inc.
“This company, at establishment, comprised four Directors—Sharma Solomon, Sandra Vantull, Pastor Morris McKinnon and Mr. Haslyn Parris.”
Solomon emphasized that the Board of Directors will determine policies to ensure maximum coverage to the people of Linden/Region 10 and its environs.
“A broadcasting policy will be determined to the upliftment of basic and fundamental human rights, and that the people are allowed full access and participation.
“With freedom comes responsibilities and the Region Ten Broadcasting Inc. Board of Directors will seek to ensure that any and all information disseminated through this medium adheres to laws governing public information and propriety.”
The Secretary of the Trust mentioned that the acquisition of the television and its functioning in the region is but a small part of the August 21, 2012 agreement signed between the former Government and the Region Ten RDC.
He noted that other crucial elements remain unfulfilled but are still legally required to be met; which includes the Technical Committee to look into the electricity issue and an Economic Committee to develop a plan for the region’s growth and development.
“The people of Linden in memory of the Linden Martyrs, Shemroy Bouyea, Allan Lewis and Ron Somerset and our struggles of 2012 which saw us united in purpose and commitment to end our marginalization and denial of adequate and sustainable development ventures must continue to focus their energies and time on unleashing the economic potential of the region.
“The previous Regional Administration having secured the return of the television, land selection committee and other stated commitments for the people, this new regional administration that is functioning in a friendly political atmosphere is encouraged to pick up the baton and work with the people for the good of all.”
Solomon once again emphasized that “Region Ten after demonstrating to the entire Guyana and world that we could come together as a people under an unfriendly government must not now fracture those relationships established prior to create disunity, tension, marginalization and retardation of social cohesion and economic development.”
He claimed that if the people of Region Ten engage in acts of short sightedness, not being able to separate the trees from the forest, then they will stymie the little progress that was made with the television station.
“Continued unnecessary infighting has resulted in this current regime withholding the granting of a licence.”
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has reassured that the licence can be available within 24 hours.
Solomon clearly stated that the license is approved and the Board will have the new members included legally on the board. He said letters were sent to the organizations for them to name their representatives.
As far as programming is concerned Solomon said that they will get funding. Just this week a group headed by Mayfil Greene donated $200,000 to complete plumbing and electrical wiring.
He also mentioned that Pastor Sills and his Ministry have worked tirelessly to complete the building. So far everything is completed including tiling, painting and air conditioning.
“The Region never had to put a cent in this initiative because it was never to be a Region-owned initiative; it was to be a people-owned initiative and this is where the Board came into play.”
Solomon noted that they are expecting to have signal reaching as far as Kwakwani and Rockstone going into Region Seven.
He said “If the licence is placed in our hands now we are ready to turn the switch. Region Ten is holding back Region Ten right now”.
Member of the Board pastor Morris Mc Kinnon echoed his sentiments about the delay in turning the switch of the television station. He noted that contrary to what people thought he is happy to be part of the Board.
Mr. Solomon also sent his condolences to the family of Haslyn Parris. “My sympathy goes out to the family of Mr. Haslyn Parris. Haslyn was like the linchpin, he was on the technical committee, economic committee….he was a trusted friend of the region and was involved in so much.”