…Evening News only newscast with closed captioningGNBA Chairman Leslie SobersPrivately-owned Television Guyana (TVG) and Radio Guyana Inc (RGI) were among the broadcast agencies commended by the Guyana National Broadcast Authority (GNBA) for its compliance with broadcast guidelines catering for persons living with disabilities.TVG and RGI were complimented by Chairman of the GNBA’s Board, Leslie Sobers, during the 4th Stakeholder Engagement held at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre, where 24 broadcast media entities attended.TVG, in catering for persons with disabilities, is the only local broadcast agency which provides closed captioning for its major newscast, Evening News.This is in keeping with the Section 26 of the Persons with Disabilities Act. The Act, however also calls for the prosecution of broadcast entities for failure to demonstrate their social responsibility of catering for the differently abled.Hefty fines as much as $100,000 and a sentence of six months’ imprisonment is among the penalties outlined in the act for failure to comply.“Within 10 years of coming in cooperation with this act, the person in charge of every national television station shall provide a sign language inset or subtitle on one newscast programme daily and special programme covering events of national significance. Subsection 2 says that a person, who fails to comply with subsection 1 commits an offence that is liable on summary convictions to a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months,” Sobers in his attempt to foster compliance by the other agencies.Guyana is presently below on the index for countries catering for persons with disabilities.Forewarning broadcast agencies of the consequences attached to their non-compliance with the request of GNBA in catering for the differently abled, Sobers further highlighted the discriminatory nature enclosed in their resistance.Sobers urged broadcasters to be cognisant of their responsibility.“So to not cater for the needs of the hearing impaired and by extension persons with disability is an act of discrimination…There are legal consequences associated with a broadcaster not putting in place systems to allow accessibility to these persons. Now we are not mindful at GNBA because some of this might be expensive, but at least we would urge our broadcasters to make an attempt, it couldn’t be that much impacting on your bottom-line, if you were to have one major newscast with the closed captioning at the bottom,” Sobers noted.However, defiance on the part of local broadcaster could see them being taken before a Special Investigative Committee (SIC). For those found guilty, fine infractions could be implemented.“For red line infractions, a minimum of $50,000, a maximum of $100,000 so if you get a red infraction, you’re liable to pay this fine. For orange infractions from $25,000 to $50,000, for yellow infractions from $10,000 to $25,000. For failing to attend a hearing of the SIC, a penalty of $75,000, for failing to provide recordings when ordered to do so, $50,000 and for failing to pay a fine on the due date, $100 for every $1000 not paid and repeat offenders can be liable for a suspension of their licensed,” the Chairman warned.RGI presently gives airtime to a member of the differently abled community, Ganesh Singh of the Society for the Blind. This is also in keeping with the requirements of the GNBA.