Whiteman Explains Reason for Permitting Cable Stations to Advertise


Information Minister, Senator Burchell Whiteman has emphasized that it was almost impossible for free to air stations, such as national networks, to carry everything in which a community has an interest.
He said it was in this context that the government had decided to amend the regulations under the Broadcasting and Re-diffusion Act, thereby permitting cable stations to carry advertisements.
Senator Whiteman was speaking at Monday’s (January 31) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, where he sought to address concerns regarding changes to legislation that would allow Subscriber Television (STV) licencees to earn revenue by advertising. Cable advertising is expected to encourage the further development of local programming and improve the STV industry as a whole.
“The people in communities want to see themselves, hear themselves, have their events covered. They want to be given a sense of greater value by the coverage, which they get. It is not possible for a national free to air station to do all of that. We want to ensure that people in communities who want access to carry programmes of sectoral or general community interest can do so, that coverage of events, which impact upon their lives can also be seen,” Senator Whiteman explained.
He said that there had been a number of exhaustive meetings with stakeholder organisations and that, “the process is continuing”.
“It is nearing completion, but the door has not been closed on any further meaningful dialogue, which may be held on this subject,” the Minister added.
Senator Whiteman stressed that in this dynamic situation where there was full liberalization of the industry, there could be no real barriers to entry by any player.
He further pointed out that the print and electronic media had the same opportunities available to them to earn revenue from data transmission and Internet services, and that there was no barrier to any entity, free to air or otherwise, applying for an STV licence.
“What we are about is recognising the changing dynamics of the industry.telecoms convergence, the different means of production, the use of technology, which really reduces some costs, and how we can all benefit from what is available and make sure that the viewers and the listeners do have an opportunity to see and hear themselves, to give expression to what’s around them and in fact to get all the services that are available through this technology,” he continued.
Senator Whiteman said the government recognized the great value to the country of the emerging local content industry. “We have had good service from the free to air stations over time. They have certainly invested in local production and that is a part of their mandate and we appreciate it. The technology and the demand are both growing and at this point there are several players in the game providing local content for viewing locally, and perhaps even internationally,” he pointed out.
The Minister said the development of local programming of a high standard, both in technical quality and in content, was being encouraged. He noted that what already obtained should be sustained and improved upon, so that the offerings both on free to air and on cable would be of equally high international standards.
Senator Whiteman pointed out that the regulations to allow advertising should be amended before the end of this legislative year.

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