CBU elects new board at 44th General Assembly

Georgetown, GINA, August 22, 2013

The 44th Annual General Assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), which commenced on August 19, today concluded with the re-election of Shida Bolai as President, and a new board.

The new board members include Vice President Gary Allen, Acting CEO of the National Communications Network (NCN), Michael Gordon, Pulita Olivieri from St. Vincent and the Granadines, Beulah Jonas from St. Maarten, Edwin Lightbourne from the Bahamas, a representative from STARCOM Network in Barbados and representatives from Belize and Suriname.

From left: Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s Secretary General, Patrick Cozier, Vice President Gary Allen, President, Shida Bolai and Board Member, Michael Gordon, speaking to the press at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal.

 

Speaking at a press briefing at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Liliendaal, Bolai said that the CBU was able to accomplish a lot at this conference including a two-day digital session, the largest contingent of screeners throughout the Caribbean, and the establishment of a new board.

She said that going forward, the work of the CBU will include a comprehensive review of its membership and its bylaws (to make them more relevant in light of technological changes).

Since the opening of the conference, the members heard presentations from a number manufacturers and representatives from the American and European Standards.

Newly elected Vice-President, Gary Allen said, “Out of that it became very clear to us that across the Caribbean, digital switchover is going to cost tens of millions of dollars per territory…with that level of investment that is expected we had an assessment of what new services and new revenue streams are likely to come on stream, and we are very concerned that those persons who have already done digital switchover as well as integrators themselves, did not have very good news for us about proven, possible new revenue streams that we can look forward to,” Allen said.

He added that if the timelines that some of the regulators spoke of are facilitated, then this may lead to significant dislocation of the television media sector at both the business and consumer levels.

Allen emphasised that, “at the business level, we do not have the kind of absorptive capacity to fund the kind of investment that is needed.”

Since none of the jurisdictions that is yet to make the transition can afford to fund this investment from their operations, then it’s likely that debt will have to be incurred in this regard and this will lead to a reduction of profitability for organisations.

It was recognised that focus also needs to be placed on public awareness, to give consumers enough time to find funds to purchase new television sets.

The CBU is calling on policymakers in the region and regulators to engage broadcasters meaningfully with a view of developing a workable plan within a certain timeframe to aid in the successful transition from analog to digital.

Another concern was also raised with regards to West Indies Cricket. Broadcasters in the region have been complaining about a trend whereby some regional cricket properties are no longer available to broadcasters to carry live. In this regard, the CBU resolved to seek an audience with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to discuss possible solutions to this issue.

Meanwhile, CBU Secretary General, Patrick Cozier said this conference has turned out to be one of the most engaging. He commended the organisers and the Government of Guyana for arranging a well planned event.

He said with the changing media landscape, broadcasters must be reminded it is more important to be accurate than first. He added that, “an informed citizenry is the gatekeeper of a progressive democracy.”

Commencement for the switch from analogue to digital was June 17, 2006 and the deadline for completion is June 17, 2015 and thus far, only the United States and a few European countries have completed this process. Several Caribbean countries, including Guyana, are still to make this transition.

The CBU was formed in 1970 with a view to stimulating the flow of broadcast material among the Radio and Television systems in the Caribbean region.  

 

            The member territories and associate member territories of the CBU include Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, France, French Guyana, Germany, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, the Netherlands, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos Islands, United Kingdom, United States and the US Virgin Islands.

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