AUGUST 21, 2014
The Caribbean Broadcasting Union has just concluded its 45th Annual General Assembly in Paramaribo, Suriname August 18th-21st 2014. This year’s meeting under the direction of CBU President Shida Bolai addressed a wide ranging list of areas including: improved access to sporting content generated in the region, research on media sector development, advocacy with Caribbean governments on digital transition as well as closer collaboration with regional and extra-regional agencies and institutions such as UNESCO and the Caribbean Institute for Mass Communications (CARIMAC).
These latter positions were taken with a view towards capacity building. The Assembly also considered in detail issues having to do with the fundamental question of its composition and categories of membership.
A call for improved access for Caribbean listeners and viewers to high-demand sports programming
The issue of bringing to Caribbean audiences high-demand sports programming was a priority issue on the agenda of the Assembly.
The CBU lamented the current practice of the West Indies Cricket Board to offer the rights to the transmission of cricket events to business entities with few or no ties to the Caribbean, or to offer rights to air cricket to Caribbean broadcasters burdened with commercial conditions which undercut radio and television stations possible profit.
Following dialogue with the Chief Executive of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Mr. Michael Muirhead, the members of the CBU called on the WICB for early and consistent disclosure to Caribbean-based entities opportunities for negotiating access to rights in cricket events featuring the West Indies and national cricket teams.
The CBU also noted the talent drain that had taken place of the specialist skills required to produce sporting broadcasts such as cricket. The Union also reminded the WICB of the urgent need for consistent engagement of Caribbean-based professionals and media entities to provide services and equipment for the production of cricket events for transmission regionally and internationally.
New research published on economic opportunities for the Caribbean media sector
A new research report from the CARICOM Secretariat was disclosed to media executives and owners attending the CBU’s Annual General Assembly. The primary research questions looked at the extent and impact of the state in the media industry, the impact of new media on the industry and what is the media industry’s continuing commercial appeal.
The research was conducted by the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) unit of the CARICOM Secretariat. The report of the research findings was presented by Ms. Ayodele Hippolyte Senior Project Officer, Communications, at the CARICOM Secretariat.
Among the main findings were that convergence seems to be the future for Caribbean media although most Caribbean societies have not made the cultural shift to cyber-dominance since Internet and computer penetration are largely an urban phenomenon; as well as the finding that people in rural areas still rely heavily on radio as their main media source.
CBU and CARICOM to partner in increasing awareness of the opportunities under the CARICOM Single Market and Economy
The members of the CBU have expressed their eagerness to partner with the CARICOM Secretariat to ensure information about the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) is disseminated efficiently and effectively, in the interest of CARICOM citizens enjoying the full benefit of the provisions under the treaty. The commitment came following a presentation and discussion on the CSME by Mrs Desiree Field-Ridley, Officer-in-Charge, Directorate, Trade and Economic Integration, CARICOM Secretariat.
The CBU agreed to engage the CARICOM Secretariat in devising and implementing strategies capable of furthering regional public education on the CSME including advertising content, information campaigns through regional broadcasters as well as the CBU’s Caribbean Broadcasting Awards.
The Union also called for a closer collaboration involving the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) and its pan-regional television station CaribVision in the production and dissemination of relevant information on the CSME.
Closer collaboration with UNESCO
UNESCO Representative and Director of the Caribbean Office, Christine Anne Norton, announced the UN agency intends to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU). Ms. Norton noted that while UNESCO and CBU have had a long and productive relationship, there is space for greater collaboration, particularly in the area of capacity-building.
During the Forum to launch the follow-up phase to the Pilot Gender Sensitive Indicators in Media Project (GSIM) the UNESCO Caribbean Representative spoke to the need for the region’s media to continue to take an active part in the socialization of younger people to appreciate and promote gender equality. At the meeting, every CBU member system present received electronic copies of gender equality measures and tools, specially designed for media. Under the project Caribbean media managers will be supported in introducing policies and procedures in their institutions aimed at ensuring men and women have equal opportunities to practice their professions.
Support for new developments in Caribbean media training
The Assembly in re-emphasising the importance of regional media training, endorsed the proposal for the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) of the University of the West Indies to upgrade from an Institute to a full School of Communication as it celebrates forty (40) years of service to the region.
The CBU membership also welcomed the new programmes being introduced by CARIMAC in the coming academic year including a Masters programme in Media Management.
Admission of new CBU Members
Two Caribbean media houses attended their first Annual Assembly of the Union as members. The Government Information Service of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government Information Service of Grenada were formally admitted to the forty-five member body at the 2014 Annual General Assembly. They were represented by their respective Chief Executive Officers, Andy Johnson and Rawle Titus.
Election of CBU Board 2014 – 2015
Following elections held on the final day of the Assembly, the complete Board membership for 2014-15 is:
Shida Bolai (Caribbean Communication Network – Trinidad and Tobago) – President
Gary Allen (RJR – Jamaica) – Vice President
Dominic Beaubrun (Starcom – Barbados) – Director
Carlos Camps (Institute of Cuban Television and Radio) – Director
Guno Cooman (ATV – Suriname) – Director
Beulah Jonis (St. Maarten Cable) – Director
Corletha Ollivierre (National Broadcasting Corporation – St. Vincent and the Grenadines) – Director
Amalia Mai (Great Belize Productions) – Director
Trevor Parker (Antigua & Barbuda Broadcasting Service) – Director
The AGA also expressed its deep appreciation to the Government and people of Suriname and its immediate hosts Telesur-ATV and STVS and the local organizing committee, chaired by CBU Board Director Guno Cooman, for their excellent hospitality in the organizing of the 2014 AGA. Next year’s AGA will be held in St. Georges, Grenada.