The Caribbean Broadcasting Union has just concluded its 47th Annual General Assembly in Havana, Cuba. This year’s meeting, under the theme, Building Media Capacity to Advance the Caribbean considered the transition to digital radio, building competitiveness in the media sector and the critical role of the media in disaster risk mitigation.
Launch of Partnership with CDEMA
On Tuesday, October 25 the CBU President, Mrs Shida Bolai and the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency, Mr. Ronald Jackson, signed a memorandum of understanding to promote co-operation between regional media and CDEMA.
Under the MOU the partners will facilitate of on-the-ground coverage of disaster events and CDEMA’s response, through integration of the media in the Regional Response Mechanism (RRM). This activity was inaugurated just before the Assembly, with the embedding of CBU affiliated journalists in CDEMA’s response to Hurricane Matthew in Haiti and the Bahamas.
CDEMA will also be facilitating training and sensitisation opportunities for Caribbean media executives, senior news professionals and gatekeepers on the importance of reporting on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) through the Regional Training Centre (RTC). The agreement also includes development and dissemination of CDM related videos and other promotional materials, as well as hosting CDEMA’s Annual Press Conference through the CBU’s affiliate, Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
New inductee into the CBU Hall of Fame
On Tuesday, October 25 during the Gala to present this year’s CBU Caribbean Broadcasting Awards, the CBU publicly announced it had conferred its highest honour on Mr. Ray Smith the first President of the CBU.
Mr. Smith, a Grenadian, was recognized for his service to the establishment of the CBU in 1970, and steering the Union in its early years.
Mr. Smith, who was the long-standing Chief Engineer of the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service, also was hailed for innovations in broadcast engineering, including devising a new form of studio sound-proofing using natural material, which was adopted by broadcast operations as far away as the Pacific Islands.
This latest addition to the CBU Hall of Fame brings the total number of awardees to fifteen (15).
Industry Issues in Focus
During the Assembly key industry issues were addressed. Director of Economics of the Caribbean Development Bank, Dr. Justin Ram, during a forum on the first day, emphasized the need for better data on media performance and audiences to promote the viability of the sector in the region. However, he noted the critical public interest role to be played by Caribbean media even where they were fully or partly privately-owned.
During the members’ plenary session on the final day, the CBU’s positions were recorded in resolutions on:
- Working with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to increase the access of audiences on free-to-air services to games played in the Caribbean and internationally, by the West Indies team;
- Using the recently-published report on the research conducted by the CBU and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to formulate and conduct public information campaigns on the dangers of improperly disposed-of equipment and electronic devices, known as E-waste;
- Producing, in collaboration with CDEMA, a model business continuity plan for Caribbean media institutions related to natural and man-made hazard events; and
- Conducting an assessment of the major standards being considered for digital transition in radio, focussing on the business case for transition, and the possible social benefits.
The CBU members also congratulated the host country on the October 26 passage of the resolution condemning the US embargo of Cuba, without a no vote, after a quarter century of consideration by the UN. The delegates witnessed history as the host broadcaster Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión (ICRT) provided a live link to the UN vote, directly to the conference facility.
Admission of new CBU Members
Four (4) new members were formally admitted to the forty-four (44) member body at the 2016 Annual General Assembly. Three (3) were recognized as full members: The Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ); Flow, Trinidad and Tobago; and National Television Network of Guyana (NTN).
One organization was recognized as an associate member; French-speaking Martinique 1ere formerly (RFO).
Election of CBU Board 2016 – 2017
Following elections on the final day of the Assembly, the complete Board is:
- Shida Bolai – Caribbean Communications Network – Trinidad and Tobago – President
- Gary Allen – RJR Group – Jamaica – Vice President
- Beulah Jonis – St. Maarten Cable Television – Director
- Amalia Mai – Great Belize Productions – Director
- Trevor Parker – Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Systems – Director
- Carlos Camps – Instituto Cubano de Radio y Televisión – Director
- Anthony Shaw – Starcom Network – Barbados – Director
- Diana Swann – Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas – Director
- Lennox Cornette – National Communications Network – Guyana – Director
The retiring members of the Board, ATV-Telesur represented by Mr Guno Cooman and NBC St. Vincent and the Grenadines, represented by Ms Corletha Ollivierre, were warmly thanked for their years of service.
The AGA also expressed its deep appreciation to the Government and people of Cuba and the local organizing committee chaired by the Head of the International Department of the host broadcaster ICRT, Mrs. Katiuska de Hombre, for their excellent hospitality in the organizing of the event.
Next CBU Assembly – August 2017
The next CBU Assembly will be held in Nassau, the Bahamas from August 23 to 26, 2017. The Local Organizing Committee is headed by Ms Diana Swann, General Manager of the host broadcaster, the Broadcasting Commission of the Bahamas.