Telecoms Minister says new Observer illegal

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Melford Nicholas

Telecommunications Minister Melford Nicholas warned the owners of the new Observer Media entity – NewsCo – to stop breaking the law.

Speaking at a sitting of Parliament held this morning, Nicholas says that he explained to the new principals of NewsCo Ltd. that the means by which the radio and television licenses for Observer Media publications were obtained were, in fact, illegal.

“They indicated, that among other things, that they had acquired, by some financial transactions, the license by which Observer Media Publications operated two radio stations and television license,” said Nicholas.

“I indicated to them that, to my vantage point, that was not the case.”

The Telecoms Minister indicated that, subsequent to that meeting, he had the Solicitor General write to the principles of the new media group that, “They were not permitted, and that an assignment of the license could not be permitted under law.”

The reformed Observer resumed on air programming last week with a few of its familiar shows resuming broadcast from its new location on Redcliffe Street in St. John’s.

Nicholas says having listened to the programming, he is seeing no difference between the old and new entities.

“In consequence, it means therefore that if the Observer Media Group is no longer operational,” said Nicholas, “And that the broadcast that we now hear taking place over the media is in fact emanating under the auspices of NewsCo, that NewsCo is in defiance of the law and I am going to be obliged to enforce the provisions of the law.”

The Telecommunications Minister goes on to dismiss the notion that his government’s interest in this matter as an attempt to suppress the freedom of the press and that the media is “under siege”.

But Nicholas said that, “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“This government has no interest in seeing a situation where the already established principle of open and free and transparent media is done any harm.” 

According to the Minister, it is the former principles of the now defunct media house that are to blame.

“What we cannot escape is the judgment that must fall to the feet of Observer Publications as a result of the financial difficulties.”

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32 COMMENTS

  1. What am I missing here? Mr Nicholas sit down and shut tf up, I’m TIRED of all these little boys running around as grown men. Show us the facts that makes the new company illegal. This is NOT your fight, the fight is that of your leader against FREE SPEECH AND OPPOSITION. Are the new owners and their legal team stupid to not ensure ALL ‘i” dotted and “t” crossed? ESPECIALLY knowing the red vultures are lying in wait. GET OVER YOURSELVES NOW MAN. I’M SO FLIPPING TIRED OF BEING AN ANTIGUA BECAUSE ALL THIS PARTY DOES IS SPREAD HATE AND DISCORD AMONG MY PEOPLE. I HATE IT.

    • So you’re “tired of being an Antigua(s)”!!!! Seriously? Maybe you’ll find things more to your liking somewhere else. I doubt it. The Minister is simply being vigilant and doing what he was elected to do. He is looking after the best interests of the Nation and our People. We are a nation of laws and things must be done right. That is why he is obligated to look into this matter. There is complete freedom of expression in this Great Land.

      • @CErmle. “We are a nation of laws and things must be done right.” If you knew the details about the Yida development like I do, you would cease from such senseless palaver. I’ve seen your comments. Let ALL sides be law-abiding, always.

      • The MINISTERS need to STOP being SELECTIVE and YOU need to STOP being BLIND if you actually THINK this is for the greater good. This is NOTHING more than a muzzle. MY OPINION AND I MAKE NO APOLOGY FOR WHAT I SAID. I LOVE my country with every fibre of me BUT sometimes (just like these) it SICKENS me. I said what I said.

  2. So if I decide to stop driving my car, I can’t transfer my driver’s license to someone else so that they can drive??

    • Exactly. You can’t sell ya drivers license to them. Lol they need to go to transport board and apply for their own drivers license. Nor can you just sell them your plates. They can pay you to turn it in to transport board so they can go get it. But you cannot sell it to them.

    • NO! That is not permissible. The new driver must follow the rules and regulations as set out under the Motor Vehicles Act, in obtaining a Drivers License in their own name.

    • That is not even close to being a relevant to the issue comment. If you used that argument in a court of law I think the judge would look up at the roof and instantly dismiss the case.

  3. Maby I missed what law he said they were breaking, other than the problems sound the same, so let me go read the diatribe again. Hope that the group have their lawyers on standby because nicholas and his ilk want to get them off the air for good.

  4. Mr Nicholas, if you are sure they need a new license then behave like the public servant you are supposed to be and help get them one. Stop behaving like a slave to Gaston Brown. What a pathetic display.

  5. So Antigua is independent, trying to rid the country of all the colonial vestiges, seems like the oppression is now coming from the new Masters.

    Why not give this new entity a leg up. Support them with concessions and provide them with some workers from the job program.

    This two party democratic system is destroying the legacy of our parents.

    As long as the two party system is in motion the people will remain devided, bickering over none issues thus eroding any progress that was made.

  6. All the private radio stations now operating from Antigua owe it to the Observer Group who fought tooth and nail for the right to operate in Antigua. Whatever the legalities are, I hope Mr Nicholas would seek to facilitate the new entity rather than create the public mischief that I see happening. I do not know the pros and cons of the new entity acquiring Observer Medias license, but what Mr Nicholas need to do is to sit with them and point the way forward. Observer Radio is loved by all…ALP, UPP and Others and it would serve the government well to assist the new entity instead of fighting them. The public shaming that Mr Nicholas have begun serves n useful purpose and would only ignite the situation further. I hope that good heads would prevail and common sense would take precedence in this matter.

  7. Fuq you melford Nicholas. You want riot in this place? It’s time that people start circling y’all endz and pay y’all some visits with some action taffy bufton style.

  8. How come the government not rushing to save jobs and bailout Observer, he bail out ABIB,leewind paints , Cubs
    Gaston just preach in parliament how Antiguans need to take ownership of the economy and business now he and his gang trying to stifle Antiguan entrepreneurship and innovation,

    Bet if it was a white man in charge dem would never say anything

    Lawd help us

  9. I am at lost about this Observer Saga. I am not an Antiguan but I love the country. I am just concerned that the ABLP decisions seems to be anti business, anti anti-ABLP supporters etc. I am not sure that Parliament is the place to break this news to the public especially if you do not want to be seen to be stifling free speech. Let your actions speak louder than your words. The PM mutterings on Scotia Bank give me shivers as someone who have friends with business interest in Antigua. Come on guys. Stop the school boys politics and rise above the Frey.

  10. Isn’t that what he doing. Informing them they are breaking they law so they can sort it out. Ha ha. What if he had bounce on them with the five O and shut operations down. ? Different story rite ? Cant please people. Human being nah pleasable.

  11. All these politicians, red, blue, orange and in between, they get away with this behaviour because we accept and support it. Forward together my big toe! Just tired of their playground fights.

  12. Melford you are being used by your no good Bastard boss. You hv no balls & he’s missing his. Get a life Melford. You’re a laughing stock.

  13. Mr Nicholas once again u have proven you are a freakin clown that don’t do your research before talking but repeat sh!t that was said to u..do your darm job you were elected to do and stop acting like a freakin dictator.

  14. Melford has proven himself to a non-entity of a Minister. What has he done to improve information and telecommunications in this country? Not a damn thing! Instead of trying to kick Observer down, tell he focus pan ABS! The only thing illegal he should concern herself with ah de old cow Erna-Mae and the crap me hear she a do in that place!

  15. Johnny Old Saint Nicholas who comes once a year you see the cartoon yesterday say Dem lakka debble grass. You can’t tap Dem from grow with or without APUA dutty wata!

  16. I hope that its a level playing field and that the observer group is getting the same concessions that point FM receives.

  17. You are so right. They are a lawless set of people when it comes to them. They should be above the law in everything they do. Like they can owe IRD over two million for ABST and nothing must be said about that. They can owe Social Security and Medical Benefit and nothing should be said about that. But let any other person do the same than all hell breaks loose. As you say this a land of laws. No one is above the law.

  18. Just like it is illegal to own a gun if you do not have a license, so too it is illegal to own broadcast equipment if you do not have a broadcast license. But I guess the cronies cannot see that simple fact as being unlawful. For them as long as they are doing it it is OK.

    • I actually agree with you sidlines. I might add that all these bloggers are here blaming the government for the fall of observer when the blame belongs to darren derick and the rest of the derick family with all the badmind in fighting never mind to the fact they moved into the ridiclusly expensive standford building which they could not maintain but yet these bloggers overlook these facts and blame the government if the wanted to shut down observer they could have done so a long time ago seeing how much observer owe apua inland revenue medical benefit social security plus other creditors smmfh.

  19. How sad is it for A & B when a voted in minister does not have the spine to refuse to spew this malicious nonsense. It defeats rational thinking to understand why MN or any of the voted in ministers would allow themselves to be manipulated into making fools of themselves with pathetic speeches in parliament and/or actions that come over as nothing more than doing as instructed to satisfy an agenda of curbing free speech, pay back for what might be considered as insults to the ego and squashing information with regard to corruption. These vindictive motivations will no doubt cause more division and ruin any chances of leaving a positive mark in the history books of public service…It will be interesting to see if these spineless behaviours override public opinion (versus bribes) in the next elections. Loss of free speech and dictatorship should be a very frightening way to live for the voting citizens who cannot afford to leave or do not have access to another country. If Antigua continues to spiral down into the depths of a one person control, this place will turn into a bankrupted hellhole similar to Venezuela.

  20. It is sad when we keep on deceiving the people with lies and half truth. The decision to close the company was solely a unilateral decision of the management of Observer. No creditor has ever took the action to force them into bankruptcy. It is only after that announcement creditors became concern as to how they would get paid. And it is only then that the debt owed to the government became public knowledge as this became court documents. It is and therefore has to be bad business practice that brought the company to it’s knees. How else can one explain raking up over four million dollars in government debt alone. Of which ABST is over $2million. and not to mention the payroll taxes which were deducted from the staff salaries and not paid over to the Statutory Corporations. This can be classified as theft. or mall practice. It is very hypocritical that this very same media house does criticize others that have been delinquent in the very same taxes. Please speak truth to the people of this country. And as the minister said in parliament today the present owners are operating outside the law once again as they do not have a license to so do. Is it so wrong to follow the law in this country. Or are some of us above the law. This has nothing to do with free speech and being independent. Speech is free in this fair land of our. Even telling lies is free, but it isn’t right. Keep the standard of journalism to much higher level.

  21. Companies that fail to pay in the deductions that they make from their employees salaries are despicable and should be punished with jail time just like a person that is stealing from another. Cause these employees will later someday knock on the door of social security only to be told that they do not qualify for the benefit of a full pension, because their contributions were not remitted by their employer. At that time the poor employee who have reach retirement age will have nowhere to go for an income and will become a pauper. All because of these unscrupulous employers. The laws should be changed and jail time should be the consequence of these actions. When someone is convicted in a Ponzi Scheme the judge gives them the maximum sentence because of this. Cause they have ruined the lives of many people.

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