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Broadcasting Commission has right to demand cable channel removal - Dunn

Published:Sunday | May 17, 2015 | 12:00 AMGary Spaulding

Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica (BCJ), Professor Hopeton Dunn, has moved to clear the air on suggestions that he overstepped his authority last month when he issued a directive to cable operators to cease transmission of 19 channels.

Dunn rebuffed claims contained in an article in The Sunday Gleaner yesterday that, in issuing the directive, the BCJ fell afoul of the law and flouted the provisions of his mandate.

He said he has not seen a reported formal opinion of the attorney general suggesting the BCJ has trampled on the law.

Dunn disclosed that he has requested a copy of the document.

The Sunday Gleaner reported yesterday that the directive issued on April 24 is set to be overturned by the Office of the Prime Minister, which holds portfolio responsibility for the BCJ.

But Dunn stressed that the BCJ's directive has not been "altered".

He also dismissed claims that the BCJ failed to communicate its intentions to de facto Information Minister Sandrea Falconer, who has ministerial responsibility for the regulatory body.

"The decision of the full commission was in keeping with by Regulation 31 of the BCJ Act," said Dunn. "We acted under what we considered to be a clear mandate provided under that regulation."

Regulation 31 states: "The commission may, from time to time, issue licence directives in respect of any matter to which these regulations relate."

Dunn suggested that Section 21 of the BCJ Act was relevant in the event of breaches and contraventions by individual cable operators.

"This section refers to specific licensees in breach," he said.

Dunn insisted that there was no attempt by the BCJ "not to engage with the minister" on issuing the directive to cable operators.

He said he signed a letter to this effect on April 22.

"We are not rash or carefree. (In fact) we are often accused of taking too long," he said.

Dunn told The Gleaner that the commission has an active, ongoing professional relationship with Falconer in her capacity as minister, within the provisions of the act.

Falconer told The Gleaner that the OPM has been in discussions with the BCJ on the directive issued to cable operators on April 24.

She reserved further comment until the discussions are concluded.

Dunn told The Gleaner that he and the BCJ expected that dialogue would continue with all parties involved.