Vice Chairperson Policy,
Advocacy and Projects
Commonwealth Youth Council
High Court Judge Vasheist Kokaram will this afternoon decide whether media house WIN Caribbean Limited can continue to operate its radio and television stations while it challenges the Telecommunications Authority of T&T‘s (TATT) decision not to renew its broadcast licence.
During an emergency hearing in the Port-of-Spain High Court yesterday evening, Kokaram heard submissions on whether he should grant the company leave for judicial review of the authority’s decision and an injunction putting its deadline on hold.
Presenting submissions on behalf of the company’s owner, Shantel Jaikaran, Senior Counsel Sophia Chote stated that TATT informed her client earlier this month that its non-transferable licence was not being renewed because it was in the name of her father, Mohan, who died in April last year and as he (Mohan) was owing it almost $5 million in unpaid fees.
Chote claimed her client was in ongoing negotiations with the authority to clear the debt and was given an opportunity to make representations before it made the decision.
She contended that her client only learned of the debt after her father’s death and needed time to sell some of its assets and could not meet next Monday’s deadline set by authority.
Chote also stated if her client was forced to reapply for a licence in her company’s name it would have to shut down its operations for the three-month period estimated for the granting of a new licence.
“We have dozens of employees that would be put on the breadline if we are no longer able to broadcast,” Chote said as she claimed it was not merely a case of “bad debt.”
However, she admitted the deceased owner was obligated to rectify his financial situation while alive.
“You allow us to operate for ten years and then in the blink of an eye you say that the licence dies with your father,” she added.
In response lead counsel for TATT, Deborah Peake, SC, claimed Jaikaran’s father or the company should have been vigilant in ensuring it was in good standing with the authority.
“It is a valuable asset so you have to be diligent in renewal,” Peake said.
Shantel and her mother, Indra, made a public announcement on the company’s television station, WIN TV, claiming it was being “hounded out of business.”
In the statement aired on Wednesday night, Shantel Jaikaran gave no reason for the company’s trouble but said there was a possibility of losing their licence from the TATT and that there were people who did not want the company to survive.
The two held hands as they appealed to the public to support them as they fight to save the company, WIN Communication Limited.
Contacted yesterday chief executive officer of TATT, Chris Seecharan, denied that the authority had sought to “hound” WIN Caribbean Limited, WIN TV, out of business.
Seecharan said WIN TV and Gayelle were yet to meet the obligations to have their concessions to operate renewed by the TATT but the authority is giving both until the end of the month to get their houses in order.
TATT had given free to air television broadcasters a deadline of February 16 to fulfil their licence obligations to have their spectrum concessions renewed but up to that time Seecharan said only Gayelle and WIN TV failed to meet the deadline.
In an advertisement in the media earlier this year TATT notified “all concessionaires of free to air radio and television broadcasting services, whose concessions are due to expire on or before the end of February 2016, that they are required to settle all outstanding arrears due to the authority on or before Tuesday, February 16, 2016.”