Consultations were held yesterday between the government and various religious organizations on the establishment of an Inter-Religious television station. If implemented, Guyana would be the second country in the world and first in the Caribbean to have a television station specifically for religious bodies.
Chief Executive officer of the GNBA( left) Dr. Prudence Lewis-Bhola, Prime Minister and First Vice-President Moses Nagamootoo (third from Left) with government officials and the representatives of various religious organizations
The consultation was held at Arthur Chung Convention Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal where representatives of the government and the religious bodies discussed the impact such a station would have on society.
Prime Minister and First Vice-President Moses Nagamootoo who holds ministerial responsibility for media development noted that consultation was a continuation of what began many years ago.
According to the Prime Minister, the Guyanese population has been fed a diet of transnational and extra territorial influences. “We must put an end to the domination of one type of influence… and open the window so that we could access a variety of influences that would help to make us better human beings, better citizens and Guyanese,” the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister explained that “religion has played a cardinal role in the development of our civilization… they have been the cornerstone for the development of society so therefore they cannot be ignored.”
Noting that there is a dire need for radio and television stations that are culturally homogenous and which would speak to the Guyanese population, the Prime Minister said in Guyana, the freedom to practice religion is written in the constitution. He however, warned against discrimination against other religions.
Representing the Minister of Social Cohesion Amna Ally was Programme Coordinator of the Ministry, Sharon Patterson. She said that the establishment of the religious television station would strengthen social cohesion in Guyana.
“An inter-religious television station has the potential to demonstrate in its truest form how cohesion can work in a multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural country like ours,” Patterson said.
Patterson noted that a television station for religious broadcast would afford Guyanese the opportunity to view programmes of their own religion and that of others.
Newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana National Broadcasting Agency (GNBA), Dr. Prudence Lewis-Bhola, commended the Prime Minister’s support for an inter-religious television station.
Dr. Lewis-Bhola said that the GNBA believes that such a television station has the potential to build and strengthen the moral fabric of the Guyanese society.
“An inter-religious station could create an environment that speaks to national unity and respect. It can also foster greater tolerance among our citizens particularly our young impressionable minds (which are) often influenced by vulgarity and indecency perpetuated in certain content broadcast on national television,” Dr. Lewis-Bhola explained.
However, the CEO urged the religious bodies to adhere to the Broadcasting Act, 2011.
Further consultations on the establishment of the inter-religious television station will be held by the chairman of the Inter-Religious Organization, Ronald McGarrell, with the various religious bodies.
From the consultations, the religious bodies are expected to form a committee where they are required to make an application to the GNBA for a license.