Ministry of Information Holds Two-Day Consultation on Draft Broadcast Bill

On Thursday 12 and Friday 13th May, 2022, the Ministry of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information held consultations with stakeholders of the Broadcast Sector to review the draft Broadcasting Services/Authority Bill.  The outcome of this review is the promulgation of legislation which will provide a stronger regulatory framework for the administration of that sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the vulnerability of the creative industries sector to external and internal shocks which crippled economic activity. This situation was further exacerbated by the proliferation of broadcast media (particularly radio stations) many of which operate in a largely unregulated environment.

The increasingly complex structure of the broadcast sector, coupled with outdated regulatory instruments (where they existed) amplified the challenges being encountered in re-energizing the creatives sector and the livelihoods of artistes, broadcasters, musicians, etc.

The review of the draft Bill has highlighted a number of issues to be explored including:

· The establishment of a Broadcasting Authority to oversee the issuance, administration, monitoring of broadcast licenses.

· Clearer definition of the roles and responsibilities of various agencies with overlapping functions such as ECTEL, NTRC.

· Ensuring regional applicability and enforceability of broadcast and copyright laws.

· Establishing a local content quota as a condition of a broadcast license to provide greater economic benefit to local artistes.

· Setting standards for the quality of programming offered by various broadcast media.

The Government of Saint Lucia has acknowledged the critical need to address these issues, many of which have plagued industry professionals for decades. The two-day stakeholder engagements allowed representatives of a wide cross section of the broadcast landscape including radio, film, television, digital media to contribute to the discussions.

Once enacted, that sector will benefit from a more regulated system for the issuance of broadcast licenses, improved compliance, collection and disbursement of royalties and formulation of a policy to increase local content on our airwaves.  The Ministry of Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information has pledged to work closely with the Eastern Caribbean Collective (ECCO) Inc to ensure the desired outcomes are attained.

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