He noted that it was for aggrieved media houses to take action over any possible infringements of their rights
In a letter to Om Lalla, attorney for the UNC, Parmesar noted that Regulation D31 issued under the Telecommunications (Amendment) Act 2004 imposes on the Government an obligation to “consult with the concessionaire (broadcaster)”.
TATT said there was no basis for it to get involved in the complaint made against the Prime Minister about air-time last night for a broadcast to the nation.
“The Authority presumes that any direction by GISL (Government Information Services Ltd) to concessionaires (broadcasters) has been made pursuant to (regulations) and the compliance by the concessionaire with that direction would therefore be subject to the terms and conditions thereof,” Parmesar wrote.
“The Authority notes that condition D30 requires that the broadcast shall be “at any hour to be selected by agreement with the Government” while under condition D31 the Government must, “...in deciding the actual time of transmission and length of broadcast, consult with the concessionaire with a view to causing the least possible disruption to the normal commercial operations of the concessionaire.’” “Please be advised that the Authority has not received a complaint from any concessionaire regarding the application of the relevant conditions,” he noted. “The Authority, in the context of the exercise by the Government of rights granted to it in provisions agreed to between the broadcaster and a minister of Government, would not be empowered to intervene unless the exercise of those rights was not consistent with the terms and conditions of the concession. The Authority has not received from you or any other person any information which establishes, or seeks to establish that this is the case.” Lalla pointed out that the request by Manning for allocation of air-time after Parliament had been dissolved took “undue advantage of its position as a caretaker Government, but also abuses his authority in an election period in order to gain unfair, improper and illegitimate advantage over his opponents.”
“The Authority however noted that it would ordinarily expect such an allegation to be made by the broadcaster which is the party to the agreement with the Minister as set out in the concession document,” he said.
TATT pointed out that “normally” when TATT received a complaint it came from one of the parties involved and not a “third party.” The authority referred Lalla to the relevant provisions of the TATT Act for information.
On Saturday, Lalla wrote the TATT noting that “on or about May 14, the GISL formally notified all television and radio companies which operate under a State broadcast licence that they are required to allocate certain days and times for an address to the nation by Mr Patrick Manning, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.” He noted that there were already contracts for stations to broadcast live UNC rallies. “The times demanded are prime air-time which include the following days all at 8 pm at which times our client has already entered into contractual arrangements with several radio and television stations,” he said. He noted that the GISL had requested slots for Sunday, Monday and next Sunday.
He urged the TATT to consider its responsibilities under the TATT Act which notes that TATT is to foster “an open market for telecommunications services, including conditions for fair competition at the national and international levels.”
Speaking to the media following TATT’s launch of its art competition for World Telecommunication and Information Society Day at its office in Barataria yesterday, Stephen Bereaux, senior manager legal and regulatory affairs confirmed TATT received the letter from Lalla on behalf of the UNC.
“Mr Lalla’s letter simply identified the Prime Minister intended to make an address to the nation at a particular time. The letter did not identify what the address was about. The issue is really is it a matter of public interest?” Bereaux said.