Tue | Aug 22, 2017

More channels to be cut - Broadcasting Commission negotiating with United States content providers

Published:Tuesday | July 11, 2017 | 7:00 AMRyon Jones

Jamaicans are set to lose more of their favourite cable channels as the Broadcasting Commission plans to direct local cable licensees to remove additional unauthorised stations from their subscriber packages.

In 2015, the commission issued directives for 19 channels to be removed because of local and international copyright law infringements. But executive director of the commission, Cordel Green, told a Gleaner Editors' Forum last Thursday that the intention was also to take a phased approach to cleaning up the system.

"I expect that we are going to have other channels, that if they are not licensed for Jamaica, will be going off the cable system sooner rather than later," said Green.

"But what I expect is that consumers will be provided with appropriate substitutes, unlike what happened the last time where people lost some channels and lost programmes that they were very keen on consuming and it caused some great deal of confusion."

He added, "The (American) rights holders, I think, are much more sensitised now and sensitive to the need to respond to demand and not just approach this from the point of pure copyright."

 

REJECT SPANISH CONTENT

 

He said the commission and other local stakeholders have been in dialogue with United States (US)-based content owners and have received commitments that will address the Spanish-language content that a lot of Jamaican consumers are rejecting.

"One of the things that is not acceptable in Jamaica is to have people append us to Latin America, organise their content for the Latin America-Caribbean market, and give us Spanish-language content," Green stated.

"We respect copyright, we are enforcing it; we spend a lot of time and invest a lot of resources in it. We have directed that certain channels should come off when we were satisfied that people provided appropriate English-language substitutes. And we have been insisting on dialogue with US content providers to simplify the licensing arrangements and ensure that we get access to English-speaking content."

While the US-based content owners have made it clear that they are not happy about having their material pirated as well as revenue lost, Green said the Broadcasting Commission accepts that mandating a large number of channels to be taken off would only succeed in pushing people into the unregulated market.

 

CLEARANCE FOR JAMAICA

 

It is with this in mind that the commission is lobbying US providers to explore clearance for them to be shown in Jamaica or the wider English-speaking Caribbean.

"So we suggested that there are solutions to this. One of the things is they have to start thinking about their business model, and there is this business model called the 'Long Tail' model, where instead of thinking of charging the same fees that you are doing in your domestic market, you think of each additional sale as an additional dollar and you think of selling by volume, as opposed high per-unit profit margin," chairman of the commission, Professor Anthony Clayton, told the forum.

"That, in conjunction with a regional or national collective licensing agreement, will actually give them a lot of what they want, which is protection from piracy and a revenue stream. And it gives us a lot of what we want, which is access to English-language material, and so on."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com