Broadcasting in GuyanaThe Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) will be reviewing its system for allocating radio licences, and broadcasters may see an increase in the years they are allotted on their licences.Speaking to the media on Friday, when new radio licences were issued, Chairman of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA), Leslie Sobers, said the GNBA will be examining the possibility of restructuring the process from yearly renewals to a longer period.Chairman of GNBA, Leslie Sobers“The board will be examining, in this year, moving away from these annual licences. We’re contemplating a longer period of licensing… maybe two or three years as a start… because the law allows us to grant as many as ten years on a single licence.”Sobers added there will also be discussions on strengthening the entity’s monitoring department.“We’ll just have to thereafter strengthen our monitoring department, to ensure that persons are complying with the regulations. And all that will need to be done in the ensuing years, and depending on how long we give it, is to stamp it as being valid for that particular year. So we’re trying to make things as easy as could be for broadcasters,” Sobers said.On Friday the GNBA issued new radio frequencies to Blackman and Sons, CNS Channel Six, Brutal Grouping, Two Brother’s Inc, National Media and Broadcasting Company (Kaieteur News) and Panicle.Delinquent operatorsThe Guyana National Broadcasting Authority’s headquartersThese changes come even as the GNBA is seeking to coax delinquent operators into the fold. Of late, relations between the authority and the broadcasting fraternity have progressed to the point where one entity has moved to the court against the GNBA.Last year, a bill was introduced to the National Assembly and passed, allowing the GNBA sweeping authority over broadcasters. Under the amended Broadcast Bill of 2017, broadcast agencies were mandated to broadcast public service programmes daily.The bill also states that the GNBA reserves the right to direct a broadcaster to broadcast emergency notices for any length of time. This can even be done during peak or prime advertising time.A broadcaster will have the right to file a complaint with the GNBA within 24 hours of being asked to broadcast a programme free of cost if, in the agency’s judgment, it is not considered a public service broadcast programme.But there is a warning for broadcasters daring to oppose the legislation: the bill states that any broadcaster the GNBA finds to have “arbitrarily refused” to broadcast a public service broadcast programme without lodging a complaint has committed an offence.Even before its passage, broadcasters have already come out in opposition to the new proposed measures. Using its one-seat majority, however, Government had forged ahead with its passage over the opposition from the other side of the house.These provisions and the manner that the bill was forced through the legislative arm of Government had caused several operators to raise concerns about the law, and friction began to develop with the regulator.One broadcaster, Freedom Radio Inc, had filed in the High Court a constitutional challenge to the Administration’s imposition of an ‘onerous’ increase in the annual broadcasting fee, and the expropriation of its airwaves during ‘prime time’ for Government broadcasts.Freedom Radio argued in its legal challenge that the move is in fact unconstitutional, since it violates fundamental rights and freedoms which enjoy protection under the Constitution of Guyana.Freedom Radio thus called for a Conservatory Order prohibiting the Broadcasting Authority from implementing or acting in any manner whatsoever in accordance with enforcing the provisions of the Broadcasting Amendment Act 2017, Act No 20 of 2017, until the hearing and determination of its fixed-date application was filed.