CBU demands clear policy for regional broadcasters
Leading regional electronic media houses are taking a strong position on the need for clear policy and regulatory approaches to ensuring the financial viability of the indigenous broadcast sector.
This was one of the key resolutions passed as the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) wrapped up its 48th Annual General Assembly in Nassau, Bahamas, last Wednesday.
This year's meeting, under the theme, 'Digital Developments in Caribbean Media', considered the transition to digital radio, the need for a workable business model for indigenous media in the shadow of looming transition to digital television, and the need to preserve the intellectual property rights of broadcasters' content subject to 'must carry' rules.
High on the agenda was concern about the 'unpaid' use being made of broadcasters' channels on subscription services under various forms of must-carry rules in the region.
It was noted that some pay services were pirating and repackaging local news and entertainment programming, which was extremely popular with their subscribers, but had no agreements to pay the broadcasters for their programming.
In the members' plenary last Wednesday, it was also noted that regulators around the region have paid little attention to the benefits and challenges of introducing digital radio.
The CBU will be convening a task force of members to investigate the issues affecting regional radio broadcasters and will formulate proposals for the most relevant ways of introducing the technology in Caribbean countries.
It was also resolved that the union will move to reinvigorate the current programme-sharing initiative, CBU Media Share, with commitments by individual members to a minimum amount of content to be circulated among participating radio and TV services.
CBU Media Share is an online portal which allows members in good standing to receive and distribute radio and TV programmes made available for free or being sold to members and other stakeholders.
BROADCASTERS URGED TO FOCUS ON CONTENT IN THE DIGITAL AGE
The keynote speaker for the main conference day was Minister of Public Telecom-munications of Guyana, Cathy Hughes. She urged the media managers and owners present to focus on content, despite the centrality of technology to media operations.
"The glaring omission, however, is a purposeful approach to consistently produce quality local content that sets out purposefully to inform, to educate, and, yes, to entertain," said Hughes.
She argued that Caribbean broadcasters could take advantage of particular features of digital technology, emphasising that it "substantially removes what were previously formidable barriers to entry into the businesses of broadcasting and its associated content production."
INDUCTION OF 2017 HALL OF FAME AWARDEE
The sixteenth inductee into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame was Victor Torres Crespo, creative director of television at Cuba's national broadcaster, the Instituto Cubano de Radio y Television (ICRT).
Crespo, a graduate of the State Institute of Theatre, Music and Cinematography in St Petersburg, Russia, has served Cuba and the region for more than three decades through television direction, training and production.
He has previously been recognised in his homeland with the ICRT Artist of Merit and the JosÈ MartÌ Distinction for National Cultural Service. Among his regional achievements is leading the production of the Caribbean Song Festival.
Following elections on the final day of the Assembly, the complete CBU board is:
1. Gary Allen - RJRGLEANER Group - Jamaica - President
2. Amalia Mai - Great Belize Productions - Vice-President
3. Beulah Jonis - St Maarten Cable Television - Director
4. Trevor Parker - Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Systems - Director
5. Victor Torres - Instituto Cubano de Radio y Television - Director
6. Anthony Shaw - Starcom Network - Barbados - Director
7. Kayleaser Deveaux-Isaacs - Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas - Director
8. Lennox Cornette -National Communications Network - Guyana - Director
9. Bernard Pantin - DIRECTV Caribbean -Trinidad & Tobago - Director