No Need to Revisit Cable Licence Granted to Flow


The Broadcasting Commission is dismissing the call to revisit the national cable licence granted to Columbus Communications Jamaica Limited, operating as FLOW.
Responding to the view, Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Hopeton Dunn said that the licence granted to FLOW provided all the safeguards and care that are necessary in pursuit of public policy.
“In fact, the provisions within the Television and Sound Broadcasting regulations, also speak to that and that is why we were able to take the action we did today [February 20],” he said at a press conference held on February 20 at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge on the campus of University of the West Indies, Mona, to announce an injunction against the sale of assets of Entertainment Systems Limited to FLOW.
The news of the latest acquisition, which is one of the major operating companies in the Corporate Area by FLOW, marked one of the important developments in the sector as it heightened concerns about a potential monopoly by the telecommunications giant. The acquisition of Entertainment Systems Limited marked the eighth such acquisition by FLOW, three of which received permission by the Broadcasting Commission.
Dr. Dunn also reminded that before FLOW was granted a licence, the records indicated that the Commission invited the operators of the smaller cable companies to come together and do whatever was necessary to present a proposal or application for a national operator licence.
“I do not believe that was forthcoming and in any event, the government of the day [the People’s National Party] took the view that there was a need for additional capital investment in the sector and that it was not unusual to have a dual level of operations with a national player and the other players on the ground,” he pointed out.
In addition, Dr. Dunn mentioned that as long ago as 2002, the Commission had granted a wireless licence to an operating company in Jamaica called N5, which did not perform, leading to the revocation of their licence and then the incoming licensing of FLOW.”So you can see that we have taken a very broad and democratic approach to this question of recommending licensing and that many different players have had an opportunity to enter into the framework,” he informed.
“I think we need to continue aggressively to monitor and manage the way in which the undertakings are carried out and the extent to which the regulations and laws are fulfilled, which are the responsibilities of the Broadcasting Commission,” Dr. Dunn added.
Meanwhile, in relation to the specific provisions in the Broadcasting and Radio Re-diffusion Act on the consequences that would flow from a breach of licence, regulations and Act, the highest level of action that may result is the cancellation of the licence, which is one of the sanctions available to the Minister responsible.

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