JIS News

The Broadcasting Commission’s Regional Forum on Policy and Regulation in the Electronic Media Sector came to a close on July 6, with Chairman, Dr. Hopeton Dunn, describing the event as a success.
He said that regional broadcasters and regulators now have a stronger foundation on which to harmonise policy responses and activities.
“We had a very successful forum. It gave us an opportunity to share ideas about where the regional industry should be going and many ideas were put on the table that are now to be acted upon in a way that is harmonised, and that was one of the key goals of the meeting,” he told JIS News.
One issue that received much attention was that of the impending digital switchover from analogue television and radio broadcasting systems to digital format, including the timeline to make the transition and the standards and systems to be employed.
The discussions, Dr. Dunn noted, focused on taking a Caribbean approach to the transition, in terms of synchronising timelines, ensuring compatibility and a shared interchange of knowledge.
Director of the Government Information Service in St. Lucia, Denys Springer, said he was impressed with the level of discussion that took place and believed Jamaica’s Broadcasting Commission was a model that should be emulated in other Caribbean countries.
He further stated that the event highlighted the importance of information to the achievement of any form of real integration among CARICOM countries as the territories and their citizens must be aware of and understand each other’s issues.
“This has been a tremendous occasion for me. What I have heard was worthwhile and I am leaving here with lots of ideas in my head. I will be seeing my Prime Minister tomorrow (July 7) in Montego Bay and I’ll be reporting to him what took place here and how we should try and follow what is taking place even to the extent of having some sort of forum in St. Lucia. We haven’t got a Broadcasting Commission in St. Lucia but when we bring it into place, we can model it based on what Jamaica has done,” he stated.
Over the two days of the forum, which was held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston, a variety of views were exchanged in roundtable discussions among some 68 regulators, academics, researchers, business interests, broadcasters and Government representatives. Approximately eight countries including CARICOM territories as well as Canada, the United States and Chile were represented.
The five roundtables focused on: ‘Media Policy for the Digital Age’, ‘The Digital Communications Market: Challenges and Opportunities’, ‘Broadband and Digital Futures’, ‘Media Content Standards’ and ‘Regional Harmonisation’.
Leader of the Opposition in Barbados, Hon. Mia Mottley was the opening speaker while keynote presenters included International Telecommunications Industry Consultant and Columbia University Professor, Dr. Raul Katz; Journalist and Communications Consultant, Barbara Gloudon; Chief of Research National Council of Television of Chile, Maria Dolores-Souza; and Research Engineer at the Communications Research Centre in Canada, Douglas Prendergast.
Discussants included Chairman of the Media Association of Jamaica, Gary Allen; President of Columbus Communications Jamaica, Michelle English; Chief Executive Officer of Nationwide News Network, Cliff Hughes; Media Specialist, Marcia Forbes; Professor of Literature and Cultural Studies, University of the West Indies, Carolyn Cooper; and Chairman of the Caribbean Internet Forum, C. Courtney Jackson.
Dr. Dunn told JIS News that the outcomes of the conference would be communicated throughout the region as participants have agreed to circulate video coverage of the event as well as all the presentations.
“The output of this conference will be seen in all the countries of the Caribbean represented at the conference and that in itself, is already a big mark of progress in terms of how we are acting together going forward”, he disclosed.
All the presentations and video footage of the forum is available online at www.broadcom.org .