Court dismisses challenge brought against Broadcasting Act

Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang
Acting Chief Justice Ian Chang

[] – Chief Justice (ag), Ian Chang has dismissed a challenge brought forward by owner of Rambarran Broadcasting Systems Limited, Jacob Rambarran, who sought to argue that the system used for granting broadcasting licences was illegal.

Rambarran challenged the constitutionality of the Broadcasting Act, but Justice Chang in his October 24 ruling concluded that the challenge was “legally misconceived.”

In his ruling, Chang rejected the argument that the system for granting licences was unlawful because it is solely controlled by the executive and disregards the National Assembly.

Rambarran moved to the High Court in June 2014, seeking a declaration that the 2011 Broadcasting Act and the Order bringing it into force are ultra vires the Constitution of Guyana and that he and his Company are entitled to have a renewal of a broadcasting licence.

In his ruling, Justice Chang said the Act did not confer or purport to confer upon any official or Minister any power to act in a manner which was in violation of the provisions of the Constitution or the law of the land.

Justice Chang also noted in his ruling that the challenge was not brought against the exercise of the statutory power of the National Frequency Management Unity (NFMU) or any of its members or against a government official exercising the power of Parliament itself to confer on government official the authority to make such appointments.

The law was assented to by President Bharrat Jagdeo on September 27, 2011 just two months the General and Regional Elections. The decision by Jagdeo to issue several broadcast licences was heavily criticized by the Opposition Parties.

Companies which were granted radio licenses in Guyana include National Communications Network (NCN/Government), Radio Guyana Inc (Dr Ranjisinghi Ramroop), NTN Radio (Anand Persaud), New Guyana Company Ltd (Dharam Kumar Seeraj), Telcor Cultural Broadcasting Inc (Dharenchand Depoo), Wireless Connections (Maxwell Thom), Hits and Jams Entertainment (Rawle Ferguson), Alfro Alphonso and Sons Enterprise (Alfro Alphonso), Haslyn Graham (of Linden), Little Rock Television Station (Rocliffe Christie), and Rudy Grant, who is the younger brother of international singer Eddy Grant.

Other licenses were granted to Atlantic Network Inc and E-Networks for cable, along with Quark Communications Inc.



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