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The Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) is slated to commence operations during the first quarter of the next financial year.
The company will be operating from 5 South Odeon Avenue, the former office of the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC).
Speaking at a recent JIS Think Tank, Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, said that early in the new financial year, the PBCJ would be a presence in the Jamaican media landscape. He noted that although there had not been much news recently about the PBCJ, “significant progress has been made.”
Along with the 17-member board and management team, which was appointed in March of this year, the Minister pointed out that the requisite staff members have also been selected.
He informed that the company has been granted a start-up budget of $100 million, which is to be allocated over a two-year period. Of that sum, a total of $25 million has already been released. These monies, he stated, have been collected through “government subventions, its (PBCJ) own efforts and by any bequests or contribution it receives from any organization”. Additional funding, he said, would be acquired from existing tenants.
Turning to the PBCJ’s work plan, Minister Whiteman said that the corporation was now working on developing a programming plan. He informed that board chairman Reverend Neville Callum, had expressed satisfaction with the progress so far. “They are very impressed by the amount of local content, which is available and which is being produced on an ongoing basis,” he added.
The Minister added that the chairman wished to use the PBCJ as the vehicle for transmitting local programming to the Jamaican audience.
The intention is to reach television audiences by creating a channel on local subscriber television, while radio audiences would be reached through the PBCJ frequencies and transmission systems. Commenting on the World Electronic Media Forum, one of the meetings held recently in Tunis, Tunisia as part of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), Minister Whiteman pointed out that there was a significant body of support for public service broadcasting from such entities as the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as well as smaller enterprises.
The entities, he explained, have recognized that “there is a need to share the space and the expertise . because there were areas the commercial broadcaster would not go but would support other people going.”
Additionally, he pointed out that there was acknowledgment of the need for “more interactivity in broadcasting”, as long gone were the days when information was transmitted one way and the message would be received. There was now, he noted, an increasing need for the audience to be reacting and responding to the message that goes out, adding that information communication technology (ICT) enhanced the opportunity for this process to occur.
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.
The intention is to use the public broadcasting service as a vehicle to present the best of Jamaica in a variety of ways that are consistent with high quality broadcasting in terms of content and technical quality.