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Regional integration is no longer an option for Caribbean states, but the only way the region will be able to secure and maintain economic and social development, says Leader of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, Hon. Mia Mottley.

Leader of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, Hon. Mia Mottley (left), in discussion with General Manager of the RJR Communications Group, Gary Allen, at the opening session of the Broadcasting Commission’s Regional Regulators’ Forum on Policy and Regulation in the Electronic Media, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, on July 5. Looking on is Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dr. Hopeton Dunn.

Delivering the keynote address at the opening of a two-day Broadcasting Commission’s Regional Regulators’ Forum on Policy and Regulation in the Electronic Media, at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, today (July 5), Miss Mottley said the media is one of the most important instruments to attaining this level of co-operation.
She therefore called for the establishment of a Caribbean News Network, where the issues and concerns of Caribbean states could be shared and examined on a regional level.
The Opposition Leader argued that open communication and broadcasting across the region would, in effect, improve the level of awareness and information among Caribbean states and help to create a greater level of collaboration.
She bemoaned the fact that regional television corporations broadcast more programmes out of North America, instead of highlighting the various political and social issues of fellow West Indians.
“There is an urgent need for a real time Caribbean News Network that allows the issues confronting our people to be heard, to be analysed and to be dealt with on a daily basis,” she proposed.
“It matters to me what happens in Kingston (Jamaica) and Kingstown (St. Vincent) and Bridgetown (Barbados), as it does in Georgetown (Guyana), and it matters to all of our people because it creates the opportunity for understanding,” she added.
Miss Mottley said the establishment of this real time television network for the region must be pursued urgently, “not as something that we can achieve in a year or two, but through a simple Memorandum of Understanding that allows for the sharing of content.”
In the meantime, she further argued that the challenges of governance have drastically changed over the last 20 years and so regionalism was needed now more than ever.
“In a post-World Trade Organisation (WTO) world, we had to remove non-tariff barriers and to reduce tariffs on a range of duties, such that the yields of import duties dropped significantly and government’s coffers felt the blow,” Miss Mottley noted, adding that at the same time, regional governments were being required to spend money to restructure their domestic industries in order to be able to compete against those markets that now had access to the Caribbean.
“So, those new additions to governance and to cost have meant that we have to come to grips with the fact that we are all in this together. Regional integration (therefore) is not an option for Caribbean people, but the only way in which we can ensure that those who have not made it on the train to escape poverty are now to be given the chance,” she reasoned.
She argued that this can only be done in the context of functional co-operation and regional integration.
The forum brought together a cadre of broadcasters and regulators as well as local and international policy makers and experts to discuss the future of broadcasting in the Caribbean.
On day one, several issues were discussed in two major roundtables: ‘Media Policy for the Digital Age’ and the ‘Digital Communications Market: Challenges and Opportunities’.
Day two will continue with roundtable discussions on: ‘The future of Broadband and Digital Platforms’ and ‘Media Content Standards’.
Other speakers at the forum include representative from Nordicity Consulting Group in Canada, Stuart Jack; Adjunct Professor and Director, Business Strategy Research, Columbia Business School, Dr. Raul Katz; Chairman of the Broadcasting Commission of Jamaica, Dr. Hopeton Dunn; and Journalist and Communications Consultant, Dr. the Hon. Barbara Gloudon.
All the roundtable sessions will be streamed live on the Commission’s website: www.broadcom.org.