Leading regional electronic media houses are taking a strong position on the need for clear policy and regulatory approaches to ensure the financial viability of the indigenous broadcast sector in the Caribbean region.
This was one of the key resolutions passed as the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) wrapped up its 48th Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Nassau, the Bahamas on Wednesday 23 August, 2017.
This year’s AGA held under the theme: Digital Developments in Caribbean Media, examined the need for the transition from analogue to digital radio and television broadcast across the region (which is currently in process in Guyana); and the need to preserve the intellectual property rights of broadcasters’ content, subject to “must carry” rules.
High on the agenda was discussion about the piracy of paying broadcasters’ channels/spectrum. It was also noted that some paying broadcasting services were found to be pirating and re-packaging news and entertainment programming which are popular with their subscribers without agreements with the originating producers.
In the members’ plenary on Wednesday, it was noted that some regulators around the region have paid little attention to the benefits and challenges of introducing digital radio. As such, the CBU will shortly convene a task force of members to examine the various issues affecting regional radio broadcasters, and formulate proposals for the most efficient ways of introducing digital radio broadcasting technologies in all Caribbean countries.
Members took the opportunity to share knowledge and make recommendations on several regional hot-button topics including the impact of social media on Caribbean newsrooms, and new policies in the region to lessen the environmental impact of the digital switchover.
The CBU has resolved to re-invigorate the current programme sharing initiative, CBU Media Share, and establish the minimum amount of content to be circulated among participating Radio and Television services. CBU Media Share is an on-line portal which allows CBU members that are in ‘good standing’ to receive and distribute radio and TV programmes with or without charges to members and other stakeholders.
Minister Hughes urges Broadcasters to place stronger focus on content
Minister of Public Telecommunications of Guyana, Cathy Hughes, was the keynote speaker for the main conference day. She urged the media managers and owners present to place stronger focus on good content. She noted, “One glaring omission is a purposeful approach to consistently produce quality local content that effectively informs, educates and, yes, entertains.”
She suggested that Caribbean broadcasters could take advantage of specific features of digital technology, emphasizing that it (technology) “substantially removes what were previously formidable barriers to entry into the business of broadcasting and its associated content production”.
Also on the slate of Keynote Speakers were Jamaica’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Paula Llewellyn Q.C., and Wesley Gibbings, President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers.
Meanwhile, Guyana’s National Communications Network (NCN) was formally admitted to the forty-four (44) member Union. Chief Executive Officer, Lennox Cornette, was also appointed to the nine-seat CBU Board of Directors to serve for the period 2017 – 2019. Other new appointees included the heads of the Jamaica Gleaner Group; Great Belize Productions; St. Maarten Cable Television; Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Systems; and the Starcom Network of Barbados.