November 29, 2021

The Editor Speaks: Wed 7th May is deadline for you to submit your input on local television.

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Colin WilsonwebDo you want the government to be the only source of providing local news on your television?

Do you really want your local news and programming to be exactly what the government of the day wants you to see and hear?

Do you want to say “Yes” to the carefully worded questions in the Cayman Islands Information Communication and Technology Authority (ICTA) call for inputs on the future of local television broadcasting?

The government wants its Cayman Islands Government Television Channel to be THE local source for local broadcasting.

The government wants to control what you see locally.

Look at the advantage they will have if they are the only broadcast source to cover elections, community events and public service campaigns.

The ICTA have been forced to ask for your input.

They ask 8 questions but give you 70 clauses with the questions. These clauses contain other questions and “helpful” remarks suggesting how you should answer and not put a huge burden on the television provider by forcing him/her to provide a broadcast free over the air channel exactly as CITN/Cayman27 through WestStar TV has done since it came on air.

WestStar has had to provide this since its inception in 1992. It is costly and the advertising revenue doesn’t cover the costs. However, one knew this before you started and the subscription cable television side made up the difference.

In the ICTA questionnaire it says: “the Authority requires those Licensees who provide such a subscription service to also provide a Local Television service as a condition of providing that subscription service. Each named Licensee was licensed to provide each of those services at different times; WestStar was licensed in October 2003, C3 in December 2004, Logic in February 2012, Digicel in April 2012 and LIME in November 2012.

The ICTA skips over the fact that WestStar has had to provide the Local Television Service BEFORE the ICTA came into existence (11 years before!).

The ICTA even tells you the obligation, which WestStar has had to bear for 22 years and would still execute, costs “the Licensee money. The Licensee has to pay for, for example, the necessary equipment and personnel to do the scripting, filming, editing etc. to produce and broadcast that content, while any revenue generated from the Local Television service may not be enough to cover those costs.”

Helpfully again: “those who consider that Licensees should not be obliged to provide a Local Television service might likely argue that, as the production and provision of Local Television can be expensive, and given the declining advertising revenue where subscription television services now compete in the market with content being provided by other means, such as over the Internet, it is not cost effective for them to continue to do so. i.e. they are not able to recoup their costs through such things as advertising.

“Requiring the provision of Local Television is, in this way, an inefficient use of resources as the money that it costs to provide it could be used for more useful purposes, such as upgrading the Licensees’ distribution networks or other parts of their infrastructure. Further, it is an example of unnecessary Government interference into the commercial interests of a private body; if customers want to watch Local Television (and there is profit in it) then the market will provide such a service without such intervention. If the Government and/or the Authority wants a Local Television service, it should be directly involved in its funding and delivery.”

They even give an example from the Bahamas: In the Bahamas there is one designated public service broadcaster, ZNS. The Bahamian Regulator in this area, the URCA, has recommended to the Bahamian Government that “public service broadcasting” should be defined as:

“the provision of domestically-produced content that is intended to serve Bahamian audiences by reflecting, reporting on and portraying life in The Bahamas.

“Public service content in The Bahamas should, in particular, seek to fulfil the following purposes:

�       “Cultural: Promoting Bahamian arts and music, other forms of culture and sports, and events taking place in The Bahamas and elsewhere, or featuring Bahamian participants

�       “Social: Showing and giving voice to the diverse lifestyles and culture of people living all over The Bahamas

�       “Democratic: Reporting on regional (i.e., Caribbean), international, local (i.e., New Providence) and national Bahamian news and current affairs, holding elected officials and public institutions to account, and providing platforms for a wide range of views and perspectives

�       “Educational: Offering entertaining, engaging and accessible programmes and services with educational value to Bahamians of all ages.”

And of course in the Cayman Islands there is already a television station on air that can provide all these items exactly as ZNS – CIGTV – the Cayman Islands Government TV channel.

Please do not be misled. Every television provider must abide by the rules already in place otherwise there is no level playing field.

I urge you to go to the Save Local TV website:

Fill in the questionnaire telling the ICTA everyone MUST provide their own Local television and the CIGTV does not meet that criteria.

You only have a few days left.

If you don’t do this you will regret it for the rest of your days.

Big brother really is watching you and it wants to control what local news you watch – THEIRS!!

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