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Aug 14, 2008

CBC loses signals on Western and Southern Highways

Story PictureIt‘s eyeball to eyeball and earlier today—at three o’clock to be precise—Telemedia disconnected access to its fiber optic cable at mile sixteen as they had said to the C.B.C. cable station in a letter yesterday. The matter has been simmering for some time and came to boiling point today when the communities on the western and southern highway who subscribe to C.B.C. cable, were cut off.

For background information, Channel Seven and Krem Radio have been agitating that under the must carry rule, both stations are entitled to carry signals from Telemedia’s fibre optics free of costs to which Telemedia has said not so. For the record, while Channel Seven argues the must carry rule, in Belmopan, Tropical Vision Cable owned by Net Vasquez of Channel Seven is not carrying Channel Five and in the Orange Walk District, Northern Cable which has a contract with Channel Seven, is also not broadcasting Channel Five. So much for the must carry rule. This afternoon Marion Ali spoke to Telemedia’s Karen Bevans, General Manger of Business Development, about this developing story.

Karen Bevans, General Mgr., Business Dev., Telemedia
Telemedia has invested a significant amount of time, money and resources in expanding and extending its fibre optic network; the main reasons being to enable TV access across the country, to provide local programming across the country, to make rural communities benefit—those who are not privy to this before—benefit from cable TV services. As you are aware, CBC already had connected villages like St. Margaret’s, Armenia, St. Matthews and more villages along the western highway. So that was the main objective; enable local programming to be transmitted to these areas.”

Marion Ali
“Why have you all decided at B.T.L. to deny access to Channel Seven and Krem; signals to them?”

Karen Bevans
“We have always had contracts in place to carry TV signals across the country and that was what I referred to on the old network. That is still in place. In fact, channel Seven right now has a contract with us to go to specific areas within the country but as I mentioned that’s on the old network. Now we have expanded and extended our network and just as we’ve had commercial arrangements in the past, we expect that the same would remain on the new network. In fact, we have already have commercial arrangements in place with Love TV, Plus TV and Channel Five on this expanded network and we have already said that we are always open to discussions and negotiations of commercial terms. Nothing changed from before so the same rules that exited on the old network basically exist today on the new network.”

Marion Ali
“How does the must carry rule apply?”

Karen Bevans
“The must carry rule is basically, before we even enter into any arrangements with the cable TV stations and on this expansion of our fibre optic network, we recognise as a responsible cooperate citizen, we need to be in a legal position to do so. So we are aware of the must carry rule and we know we need to follow and ensure that the CBC or whoever we enter into any commercial arrangement with follow and adhere to all those rules. And as such, we ensure that we abide by those rules. So as far as we are aware, we are adhering to the must carry rule, CBC is adhering to the must carry rule but at the end of the day we interpret this thing as it seems to be a change of the interpretation in this must carry rule. It’s a legal situation but it seems that the Broadcasting Authority, from our point of view, is re-interpreting this thing now and one must be aware from Telemedia’s perspective, that we recognise that, for example, maybe the owners of Channel Seven are key players on the BBA. So while—you could imagine that Telemedia is concerned about the conflict of interest. So that again, leads us to have some concerns in our mind. Barring all that, we ensure that we adhere to the must carry rule as we know it existed in the past.”

Marion Ali
“So why did you disconnect them both today?”

Karen Bevans
“As I said, this was a commercials opportunity for us. We have not been able to successfully enter into any commercial arrangement with them. Those TV stations that we have commercial arrangements with are on air successfully and we have negotiated with them and we are willing to negotiate and talk with any TV station, the BBA; whoever. This thing can be settled in a in a few minutes.”

At news time, both parties have not budged.

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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