March 2, 2021

Caribbean urged to fully embrace digital technology

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From Jamaica Observer

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — ’s Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, on Tuesday said that the needs to commit to digital developments in the media, warning that telecommunications and digital technology are changing rapidly.

Addressing the 48th annual general assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union () in Bahamas, Hughes said technology has changed the world noting “we tweet, text, tantalise and in some cases terrorise each other with it.

“The world today knows what “fake news” is, but can we distinguish it as we receive it? But the important question is: where is broadcasting going? It is becoming increasingly difficult to argue that broadcasting, in the form that it is defined, is still relevant.”

She said that technology is disrupting industries in all sectors with Whatsapp and other messaging services eroding telecommunications revenues.

“Broadcasting has not escaped Schumpeter’s gale of creative destruction wrought by developments in Information and Communications Technology,” she said, adding that broadcasting relies on content which “has now become an amalgamation of text, voice, video and data now delivered regardless time, space or distance in a mini computer that fits in the palm of your hand”.

Hughes said that content is no also longer exclusively delivered over the air or even through cable networks.

“It is increasingly delivered online facilitated by quantum increases in bandwidth and high mobile penetration rates,”’ she said, noting that in her country mobile penetration rates are approaching 80 per cent providing a convenient channel for content providers.

“The old paradigm was push to consumer. Now consumers are also producers, uploading 300 hours of video per minute to Youtube, sharing around 95 million photos per day on Instagram, sending around 60 billion messages per day on Facebook and Whatsapp.

“People are no longer getting their information solely from well regulated (or not so well regulated) media houses, but also from small nimble content providers, amateur journalists, and most importantly from their networks of close friends and associates. “

She said using Guyana as an example, all major newspapers have online editions, many broadcasters also use social media in addition to dedicated online facilities and there are emerging small online-only media offerings.

“The glaring omission, however, is a purposeful approach to consistently produce quality local content that sets out purposefully to inform, to educate, and yes to entertain. To tell the Caribbean’s story as the CBU set out to do in the early days of its existence. And it is a story worth telling for the history of the Caribbean is fantastic and riveting. “

She said one characteristic of the digital revolution that is especially fortuitous for the Caribbean, is that it substantially removes what were previously formidable barriers to entry into the businesses of broadcasting and its associated content production.

“In the music industry, this year the world saw Chance the Rapper sweeping three without having any affiliation with record labels and old school distributors – depending entirely on online streaming services like Soundcloud and Spotify for his distribution. His official video “No problem” has over 119 million views,” she said making references to other examples of how the environment has changed significantly.

“These examples demonstrate that the digital universe has tremendous potential for us to take advantage of our unique Caribbean creativity – which is second to none – and use it for economic benefit for our people,” Hughes said, adding that it is for the institutions like the CBU, to critically assess where the industry is going and to help the region chart a course towards reaping the economic benefits of its creativity.

During her address, Hughes told the delegates that the region must however not be eclipsed by technology recalling the words of a former CBU president, Terry Holder who pointed out sometimes “Technology Drives Content but it is Content that Matters”.

She said as the region moves from analogue to digital in all spheres, technology will drive more than content.

“It will drive competition, it will drive convergence and context, it will drive communication, which channels are used and how we will all benefit collectively and commercially.”

Hughes said when the CBU was established it was essentially to prepare, promote and share content from and within the Caribbean.

“This organisation has to continue to re-engineer itself in this rapidly evolving environment. Analogue to digital allows us not be small states isolated in a technologically advancing world. It serves to improve our lives. Digital technology has made components and the world smaller but it has opened the door for more talk, more space, for some more competition.”

She said digital technologies have transformed media industries worldwide for better and to an extent for worse affecting both owners and employees.

“Nevertheless it is an exciting time as we see creativity and innovation appear almost every day. All must work together to solve the many challenges of media convergence, cost for the production of content, cost of transition and the legitimate expectations created by digital technology. “ But she noted that the move to digital means a redefining of jobs.

“This means retraining retooling and re-deploying workers. The inevitability of an evolving technological society has led to blurred lines of who does what, blurred job titles and job descriptions. It has even meant a blurring of work spaces.

“Digital technology means work is outsourced across the region and the world. An ad can be created in Guyana, voiced by someone from Jamaica, shot in Barbados or the Bahamas and edited in Trinidad and Tobago. All of it can be done digitally and sent to be aired in St Vincent or Belize.

“Who owns what and who gains from what, how those gains are monetised and to where those gains subsequently are repatriated are questions the region needs to address. And that process has started across the Caribbean,” the Guyana minister added.

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  1. […] Source: Cayman Eye News From Jamaica Observer NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — Guyana’s Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, on Tuesday said that the Caribbean needs to commit to digital developments in the media, warning that telecommunications and digital technology are changing rapidly. Addressing the 48th annual general assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU)… Link: Caribbean urged to fully embrace digital technology […]

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