The President of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), Gary Allen, is urging regional governments to be proactive and play their part in ensuring the continued viability of indigenous media.
Mr. Allen, speaking Monday at the opening of the CBU’s 50th Annual General Assembly in San Andres, acknowledged that this is a challenging time for the indigenous media but also a an opportunity to emphasize their value and our worth to their people.
He said, while print, radio and television are being re-shaped, it is important for governments and regulators to “take charge of designing the right successor framework for indigenous media and not leave them behind in this change.”
The push for universal access and connectivity for all must not be an end in itself, he stressed, noting that it was equally important “to pay attention to what happens after connectivity - what content will they connect to, connect with and what content will our people be connected by when we secure this access.”
“The credible, independent, public serving and commercially driven media remain relevant and needed. Spontaneous, uncorroborated user generated content cannot be elevated to credible broadcasting and trustworthy publication,” he told his audience of media executives and government representatives, including two members of the Jamaican Government – Minister of State for Education, Youth & Information Alando Terrilonge, and Senator Robert Morgan, Parliamentary Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister.
Accordingly, Allen, who is also CEO of the Jamaica based RJRGLEANER GROUP, is urging governments and regulators to consult with the industry and develop the correct new framework.
Getting it right, for him, includes getting the business model right.
“We cannot be expected to serve the best interest of the public, allocate hours of time and tens of millions of dollars in airtime to government reserved time for broadcasts, pay regulatory and license fees, face competition from all forms of new media technology players and still find enough resources into building excellent quality programming that uplifts our citizenry,” he argued.
That “right model” must be one that recognises the value of local content, he said, asserting that “it cannot be that subscriber platform operators are by regulation required to recognize financially the value of foreign content, but local content from us as broadcasters and independent producers is expected to be used by them free of cost.”
He reiterated that, in times of emergency and disaster, the nations of the region rely on these indigenous media for vitally needed services.
Citing the island of Montserrat, he noted that the broadcaster there “has transformed that society into a well prepared and well educated society about how to live with an active volcano.”
Likewise, he said many other societies in the region “were prepared, maintained and restored when Storms and Hurricanes like Gilbert, Hugo, Ivan and others, have visited – because of the work of broadcasters.”