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The Broadcasting Commission is seeking to allay concerns about an approaching monopoly in the cable sector.”It is not our view that we are at that position as yet, but the Commission is taking very careful note of what is unfolding in the sector and is guiding and also making recommendations in respect to how Jamaica can continue to have a multi-player market and competition in this very important sector,” Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Hopeton Dunn said recently at the weekly JIS ‘Think Tank’.
This comes against the background of telecommunication juggernaut, FLOW, purchasing several cable outfits as part of plans to lock up the local cable market. The most recent acquisition is Entertainment Systems, one of the larger cable entities in the Corporate Area, and this marks the eighth of such acquisitions. The Chairman further assured that one of the recommendations currently being contemplated is an additional islandwide broadcaster, utilizing wireless technology which would provide consumers with an option, in addition to the option provided by wired providers as well as those at the national and those at the zonal and smaller levels.
In addition, Dr. Dunn insisted that the Commission would make sure that many of the existing players, especially the longstanding cable companies that pioneered the sector, are given opportunities to expand into other zones to grow their operations in line with their own capacities and competences, even as it [Commission] monitors and manages the whole landscape of new players.
“It is important to recognize that we have to keep vigilant on the competitive side to make sure that we have national competition in the sector and we will not resile from those responsibilities,” he stated.However, the Chairman, while outlining the position of the Commission, did acknowledge that when there is a period of transition, as is occurring in the cable landscape, there would invariably be some type of concern and apprehension.
“It is true that we have a major new player in the market and that there have been acquisitions of existing players in some regions of the country and as a result, there is not the kind of competitive framework which was intended by the Commission,” he said.
The Broadcasting Commission is a statutory body established by the Broadcasting and Radio Re-Diffusion Amendment Act of 1986.