BBC Caribbean
March 1, 2004

Guyana media merger

The Guyana's Broadcasting Corporation has officially been merged with the state owned Guyana Television Company.

The newly named National Communications Network Inc. is bringing state-owned radio and TV services under one umbrella.

The government says the merger was necessary because the two companies were no longer financially viable.

But some have questioned the government's motives.

The BBC Caribbean Service reporter in Georgetown says there has been no feasibility study to determine if merging the two companies would improve the economic situation.

Speculation has arisen that the move may be part of a wider strategy by the government.

"It is well known that there are some people within the media that the government are very uncomfortable with. These are professional people, they’re properly employed, and it was felt one of the only ways in which they could be got rid of is by this route. Asking everybody to resign, paying everybody off and re-employing those that they want," he said.

Earlier this month, the government ratified the Memorandum of Understanding along with the Clerical and Commercial Workers Union - bargaining agent for the media workers - paving the way for the creation of the new entity.

The BBC reporter said employees have voiced concerns at the way the merger came about.

"It seemed to be done very secretly, they weren’t not involved in it at any stage. And they weren’t sure of the terms and conditions that employment would be terminated and then they may be reinstated," he said.

Although reports say more than 200 employees from the state-owned media have been given severance pay and have been told they can continue with their jobs temporarily - it is not a contractual agreement.

"They can start asking people to leave tomorrow but certainly within the next six months there will be new staff in place," the BBC reporter said