As the Caribbean Broadcasting Union celebrated its 50th anniversary, its President called on regional governments to include broadcasters and traditional media in decisions about media frameworks and policies.

The latest Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) annual general meeting in San Andrés, Colombia, was used as an opportunity to emphasise indigenous content across the region in the face of growing competition from international and “new media technology players”.

But encouraging the growth, prevalence and promotion of homegrown content and talent across the Caribbean also requires media organisations to have a role in the decision process for new media frameworks and policy changes, according to CBU President Gary Allen.

Opening the 50thAGM on 12 August, Allen said:

“As a new information, communication and technology ecosystem takes shape globally, print, radio and television are being reshaped. As this happens, 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,”

Allen, whom is also the CEO of RJRGLEANER Communications Group and Vice President of the Public Media Alliance, highlighted the pressures faced by traditional media in developing quality content:

“Getting it right 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 licence fees, face competition from all forms of new media technology players and still find enough resources in building excellent quality programming that uplifts our citizenry.”

 While agreeing that greater connectivity and accessibility to digital media is essential, he also expressed concerns about the security of access and the quality of the content available, saying:

“Spontaneous, uncorroborated user-generated content cannot be elevated to credible broadcasting and trustworthy publication.”

Allen also reiterated the importance of indigenous media during and after a crisis. Referring to recovery efforts in Montserrat, he noted that the broadcaster “has transformed that society into a well prepared and well educated society about how to live with an active volcano.”

While there is a lack of consolidated public media organisations across the wider Caribbean region, Colombia’s Minister of Information and Communications Technology, Silvia Constain Rengifo, used her opening remarks to speak of commitments to develop “public service” content in the country. Jamaica’s Minister of State for Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge, also said he was pleased to encourage the development of public media services.

Find out more about this year’s event

CBU is a partner of the Public Media Alliance


Header Image: Gary Allen Managing Director of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group answers questions at their annual General Meeting at the Pegasus Hotel. Credit: Kenyon Hemans/The Gleaner Co. (Media) Ltd.