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Laws are to be in place during the first quarter of this year to allow cable operators to advertise. Senator Burchell Whiteman, Minister of Information, made this disclosure at a JIS ‘Think Tank’, recently.
He noted that drafting instructions to change the law have been given to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel, and that a first draft of the document has been prepared and a revised version was currently being worked on.
The Minister explained that the move to consider cable operators as legitimate advertisers was widespread, and had been determined after consultation with key players in the industry.
Mr. Whiteman pointed out that although the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ), which represents free-to-air television and radio stations, had been very concerned about giving this access to cable operators and independent programme producers, it was his view that they came to a point where “a decision had to be taken”.
While acknowledging that the new legislation might result in unhappiness among the involved parties, he emphasized that government has always sought to, “create legislation and regulations which are in the national interest”.
“These are the days of convergence and mergers of different kinds.[and] there are possibilities [for] those who are in one sector of the industry being able to participate in the other sector,” the Minister said.Rather than focusing on the impact the legislation would have on one provider as opposed to the other, Minister Whiteman argued that a greater focus should be placed on how, “the industry can be further developed so that it is able to make an impact on the world market”.
In addition, he has encouraged the parties who have a stake in the industry to, “seek and find opportunities to make it work for them”.
Meanwhile, President of the Jamaica Association of Community Cable Operators (JACCO), Collin Ennis, has said the move to allow cable operators to advertise was, “long over due”.
“Operators have been encouraged over the years to develop local programmes.and [this] cannot be [done] without the advertising revenue,” Mr. Ennis said.Therefore, it was good that they had been considered for an advertising licence, he said.
On the heels of the legislation, Senator Whiteman has issued an appeal to parents to pay special attention to the rating systems that are provided by operators to safeguard their children.
He said that one of the issues that must be dealt with, “is getting the adults in the society to realize that there is no point in putting out a children’s code of programming”, if parents were not taking the responsibility to use it.
“If the Broadcaster is complying with the regulations and notifying parents, they must make the appropriate response so as to allow children to view material that are children oriented,” the Minister stressed.
He is therefore encouraging all Jamaicans to use the systems effectively and parents in particular, to carry out their parental responsibility, or else rating systems would be “of no real value”.
The Minister added that regulators “will have to say to a free-to-air station that if you put a programme in the wrong slot, there is a penalty to be paid”.