Information Minister Explains Roles of JIS and PBCJ

Photo: JIS Photographer Information Minister Explains Roles of JIS and PBCJ

Story Highlights

  • Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman has pointed out that the function of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) was different from that of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ).
  • The PBCJ is a body created by law to encourage and propagate positive values and attitudes within the society; encourage the promotion of the arts, literature, literary and artistic expressions; the vitality of democratic institutions; the dissemination of news, information, ideas on matters of general public interest, and the development of education and training.

Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman has pointed out that the function of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) was different from that of the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ).

He explained that the JIS provided government information, while the PBCJ, when it comes on stream in August, would produce programmes of a more general national interest.

Senator Whiteman was responding to questions at a recent post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, as to whether the JIS and the PBCJ would overlap in their roles.

“I want to make it clear that public service broadcasting is not to be confused with government broadcasting. The Jamaica Information Service does a good job in providing government information. It has also been receiving good reviews for being a good news service for Jamaica. The media sector in Jamaica draws on them, media services overseas, and Jamaicans all over the world draw on them because their website provides a lot of information, not just about the government, narrowly interpreted, but about Jamaica,” he told journalists.

“The JIS does produce programmes, documentaries, features of different kinds, which could find their way unto a public broadcasting corporation station. But it would be up to the Board of the PBCJ to decide what meets their criteria of being national as distinct from government,” he added.

The Information Minister noted that the Creative Production and Training Centre (CPTC) was “also in the business of good quality programmes”.

“They may well be contracted to provide some content for the PBCJ. There does reside within Jamaica the capacity to produce programmes featuring the Jamaican way of life, and in fact, reflecting the best of Jamaica, which would find itself into a public broadcasting service,” he said.

Mr. Whiteman also used the occasion to emphasize that government was not in any way involved in any advertising arrangements that Nationwide News Network (NNN) might make during its air-time on the KOOL FM frequencies.

“There is a complete separation between what NNN does and what the PBCJ will do in its time slot, using the same frequencies,” he explained.

He pointed out that the temporary arrangement that had been made with NNN for a limited number of hours on KOOL FM did not in any way impact upon the PBCJ, which was expected to come on stream in August.

“I just want to make it very clear that the licence that KOOL has, allows it to commit a portion of its time to an independent entity, to fill that time. It is in a sense through that arrangement that it will earn income to enable it to carry out its principal function, which is to provide public information about weather, airports, times and schedules, and likewise, PBCJ would be in the same situation,” Senator Whiteman said.

He noted that public service broadcasting in its most desirable form, was non-commercial in nature and that it was not determined by what an advertiser wanted or necessarily what was most popular and appealing to those who wished to advertise.

“The government is aiming to find a way to ensure that we can provide through PBCJ, good quality products without putting undue burden on taxpayers of this country,” the Minister said.

Mr. Whiteman’s comments came against the background of Cabinet’s approval on January 24 of a six-month agreement between Aerotel and NNN for the use of the KOOL FM frequencies to broadcast news and current affairs Mondays to Fridays from 12:00 noon to 12:30 p.m., and Sunday to Friday, from 5:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. NNN began broadcasting on KOOL FM frequencies on January 31.

This arrangement came in tandem with Cabinet’s approval of an option under which the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) will be able to provide public service broadcasting by collaboration with Aerotel, through the use of frequencies now fully occupied by KOOL FM 97.

The Aerotel/KOOL FM initiative is part of government’s commitment to support the PBCJ, especially in the start-up period and to provide funding for the entity as it seeks to become fully established.

The PBCJ is a body created by law to encourage and propagate positive values and attitudes within the society; encourage the promotion of the arts, literature, literary and artistic expressions; the vitality of democratic institutions; the dissemination of news, information, ideas on matters of general public interest, and the development of education and training.

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