Friday 14 August, 2020

Million-dollar bailout for CBC



Government has approved a motion tabled in the House of Assembly today to grant the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) a one-time supplementary of BBD$9.2 Million. 

Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy led off the debate in Parliament this morning in a sitting which was again boycotted by members of the Opposition party. 

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He said the government is not prepared to offer the broadcasting entity continued assistance but rather they have insisted that CBC develop a strategic plan for the future. He said they will be working along with the Productivity Council to examine all aspects of the company's operations and implement the necessary reform. Sealy said CBC cannot ignore the reality of planning for the future, realizing that the media landscape is fast evolving and persons now have numerous broadcast options. 

In explaining the breakdown of funds of the supplementary, Sealy said out of the allocated $9.2 million, $3.8 million is to pay off debt to overseas suppliers and $2.1 to pay bills to local utility companies. 

Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler said it is no secret that CBC has been undergoing a number of challenges over the years which continue to compromise its operations. One such challenge has been the inability to pay staff increments and salary increases as well as a fall off in subscribers to their cable television. 

Sinckler said CBC's most fundamental provider of revenue, Multiple Choice TV (MCTV) is fast becoming a "dying breed" considering that most telecommunication companies are now offering customers television packages along with mobile and fixed-line services. Sinckler also said internet television is pushing CBC out of competition.

In addition, loss of advertising revenue, as most businesses are choosing to employ social media platforms, is causing CBC to suffer. 

"More people are focusing on radio now to get their information, less people are watching television ... so the revenue that would have come in from two of their major sources are gone."

Sinckler said the work has been done over the years to widen the content broadcast on CBC television and improve its quality- all without any transfers from government. 

"While we are not going to encourage CBC to be coming to the government in this particular way ... from time to time periodically we are going to have to give some support to CBC."

Sinckler added a lack of high-tech equipment has caused the cost of operations to increase significantly, noting it was only with the staging of CARIFESTA XIII in August last year that CBC was able to purchase equipment for High Definition (HD) TV. 

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