VAZ urges MAJ to sign off on government broadcast agreement


Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, is appealing to the Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) to sign off on the agreement regarding time allotted for government broadcasts on radio and television.
Addressing the issue at on Wednesday November 24 post-Cabinet press briefing held at Jamaica House, Minister Vaz said that while the MAJ has accepted the Government’s position on the new format for public broadcasts, the Association is yet to sign off on the terms of the arrangement.
“My team has negotiated with the MAJ and reached a position that we feel everyone is happy with. A proposal was submitted to me in October of this year, which was to be ratified by the membership of the MAJ. To date, I have not received that signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in (relation) to the terms,” he told journalists.
He said after ongoing negotiations for almost a year, it is his understanding “that the media has accepted in principle, the divisibility of the time, which means simply that the time can be broken up into smaller segments and that the Government is not seeking to get any more time than what is currently allotted.”
Referring to concerns that have been raised in relation to recommendations put forward by the Broadcasting Commissions’ consultants regarding a fee structure among other matters, Minister Vaz made it clear that, that was a separate and totally unrelated issue. He noted further that the report contained recommendations and not government policy.
He explained that the Broadcasting Commission had engaged the services of an overseas consultant to look at its role as regulator and how the body should be funded, its powers, among other issues.
“The consultants have given a report, which contains their recommendations. It is not recommendations that the government has accepted, neither is it government policy, because we have not even reached the stage of where wider consultations have taken place with the industry,” he stated further.
“Whatever the Broadcasting Commission and their consultants have done in terms of a Green Paper is for wide consultation, which have not even started as yet, so the speculation in terms of what has been said in relation to what the Broadcasting Commission is going to do in terms of fees and all that is totally speculative,” he added.
Minister Vaz argued that any attempt to “marry” the proposals in terms of government broadcasts with those contained in the Broadcasting Commission report, specifically in terms of the electronic media assisting in the funding of the operations of the Commission, is still a work in progress.
He stressed that these and other matters such as payola and digitisation of electronic media that were discussed at a recently press conference convened by the Commission, were recommendations and not government policy.
“It is therefore disingenuous to link both issues, and I would urge with all the sincerity at my command that we sign off on the issues, which have been dragging for more than nine months and discuss the other issue separately when that time comes and leave them as two distinct, separate issues, which they are,” he emphasised.

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