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May 16, 2018

Free Ride on Cable is Over

Dean Barrow

Your cable bill is going up as of June first, and the recent push by international content providers to regulate signal piracy is the primary reason why. A few weeks ago, representatives from HBO Latin America were in Belize negotiating a copyright licensing agreement for their content with the Belize Cable Television Operators Association and that has now been completed. A uniform price of sixty dollars, including General Sales Tax goes into effect, which gets you about eighty channels. But a release from the Association states that better service will also be taken into account through improved technology and exciting digital features. Prime Minister Dean Barrow, whose portfolio also includes broadcasting, notes that the increase is not as harsh as it could have been, but there is no denying that Belizeans’ free ride on cable is over.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I don’t think it’s unilateral. I believe the Broadcasting Authority has agreed that this is legitimate. And as I understand it, it’s because the owners of the copyrighted material that the cable broadcasters peddle as their fare to Belizeans – those owners have said that the free ride is over, and that the cable companies in this country must pay for the material for onward transmission. And if they must pay, then their subscribers clearly have to pay as well. So that too, is a circumstance that’s driven by external concerns, the external arrangements. Now, I think the B.B.A. has tried to be scrupulous in ensuring that the increases do not go beyond what is absolutely necessary for the operators to recoup their costs in paying these new subscriptions to HBO and Showtime and all the others. But beyond that, it’s in fact a matter of confronting what was always inevitable. We must have known that sooner or later – to some extent it turned out to be later, happily – sooner or later, the free ride would end.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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