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Aug 18, 2011

Bridging the region; Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s AGA

The Caribbean’s proud history of experience and desire to spread knowledge to the region’s common Diaspora had culminated into the formation of the Caribbean Broadcast Union, a group whose passion for media has no bounds. And during the first day of its Annual General Assembly in Belize, the CBU awarded those members with a minimum of twenty years experience in the field.  Channel Five, a proud member of CBU, hosted the Caribbean media moguls for the event. News Five Isani Cayetano travelled to Ambergris Caye today and filed this report on the AGA.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The annual general assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union concluded this afternoon in San Pedro.  The two-day event served as a forum for television and radio broadcasters within the region to deliberate the way forward within an ever-changing media industry.  Among the topics discussed is the change from analog to digital broadcasting; the former remains the current operating standard within the Caribbean.

Vic Fernandes

Vic Fernandes, President, CBU

“In some countries they have already made a decision, some of the regulators, that 2015 is the date.  We feel that we want to see a date that is further along the path since, to go with 2015, from the broadcasters perspective presents a number of challenges, not the least is that we have not engaged with the regulators in any meaningful discussion to date and if we are going to talk about transforming to a digital platform then we the broadcasters have to look at how that impacts our business.  Theres also going to be a high cost associated with making that transformation to digital and many of us have equipment that we would have purchased over the last few years that would not be fully written down by 2015 therefore well take a hit on our books.”

In terms of content Belize has been widely acknowledged for the quality of programming it continues to put out.  This station, for instance, has been recognized for the variety of programs that are being made available to its audience.  An area of improvement, says Gary Allen, is the inclusion of more regional content.

Gary Allen, Board Member, CBU

Gary Allen

“Your programming from what I have seen includes some reality programs.  It includes some game show programs.  It includes some of the traditional news and sports so the variety is there [and] I just think that embracing the rest of the region to diversify with some additional regional content would be an area. In the Belizean situation while I notice that theres a strong presence of foreign cable you still have a number of stations that are rich in paying attention to local matters.  Your quality is not inferior quality.  I believe that there can be a lot of co-productions and collaborations that I would encourage because as a part of the Caribbean I dont think that we are as close as we should be, knowing and understanding what is happening in Belize.  And I think that thats an area that could help to move your industry forward in terms of association with other entities in the Caribbean.  So I think that would be probably one of the areas.”

What the CBU has also been able to provide for its member stations is a wealth of resources, particularly technical training for reporters, videographers and news editors.

Vic Fernandes

“We looked at the extensive work which the union has done in training.  We felt that as a union we needed to step up the training and this year we ran more than ten training programs.  Weve trained over a hundred people across the Caribbean.  We felt that that was our contribution to the industry at a time when perhaps individual members might not be able to devote a lot of resources to things like training. We have looked at several of the issues impacting our industry; not least of all would be the economic realities of our industry.  As I said in my address yesterday we operate in an environment of revenues that are more aligned to 2006 and in some cases 2004 but our expenses are 2011 levels.  So many of our members are challenged by the economic realities of the current economic storm and I dont see any sunshine in that forecast in the near future.  I think more rain is forecast economically, so what we are challenged to do is to further contract our expense sides since our top line is not growing.  We have to look at our expense side and see how we can contract that.”

During today’s session CBU President Vic Fernandes was re-elected for another term as -the head of the union, Vice President Shida Bolai was also re-elected to her post as well as Channel Five C.E.O. Amalia Mai, who was re-elected as an ordinary member of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s board of directors. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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