The programme for the Electronic Media and Content sector in Jamaica is managed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information. The Information Division supports the Minister in designing and implementing the policy and legislative framework while the sector is regulated by the Broadcasting Commission. Currently, the media landscape is framed by television and radio, with radio penetration holding the highest audience although the Market Research Services Limited (MRSL) have indicated that the number of radio sets and listeners are declining.
Jamaica has kept pace with developed nations in adopting new and emerging Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), leading to areas of media activity that were never contemplated by the Broadcasting and Radio Re-Diffusion Act (the Act), when it was promulgated in 1949, nor the Television and Sound Broadcasting Regulations, (the Regulations) in 1996.
The Programme provides for:
- an approved Election Media and Content Policy (the proposed Policy);
- amendments to the Legislative and Regulatory Framework;
- design of an appropriate institutional framework; and
- approved standards for Digital Switchover
The Proposed Electronic Media and Content Policy
This proposed Policy seeks to provide an adequate level of equity for all forms of content distribution, without stifling creative innovation or alienating audiences for reason of an overly prescriptive policy framework.
A modern policy, legal, regulatory and institutional framework, which contributes to the creation of a knowledge-based, digital literate and empowered citizenry, as well as enables a competitive electronic media industry to advance national development and add value to the global information society.
Proposed Policy Objectives
The proposed Policy will seek to:
- introduce a service-based definition which captures the activities of all ‘like’ services in new legislation to ensure applicability (as far as is possible) of common regulations to all providers of ‘like’ services for purposes of transparency and equity; and
- provide for the establishment of a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework which facilitates accessible, equitable, expeditious, enabling and effective regulation of the electronic media; protects all consumers, including vulnerable audiences; and is supportive of the development and promotion of high quality local content.
Some Elements of the proposed Policy
The modernisation of the Media Sector will require consideration of a number of elements that will support the establishment of a modern media environment including:
- standardising Regulatory Provisions Governing the Industry and Simplified Application Process;
- recognition and Support of Priority Indigenous Programming;
- introduction of a new Advertising Regime and Additional Revenue Streams for Electronic Media Industry Stakeholders;
- introduction of a New Ownership Structure in the Electronic Media; and
- establishing the Transmission Standards for Digital Switchover.
Digital Switchover (DSO)
The term “Digital Switchover” (DSO) refers to the transition from analogue television broadcasting to digital television broadcasting. Digital television allows for better picture and sound quality, as well as more choice of channels and programmes.
Benefits of DSO
Among the tremendous benefits to be derived from DSO
- Spectrum optimization
- Reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions due to a massive reduction in the power consumption of broadcasting transmitters.
It is expected that the process of DSO will generated an increase in ICT waste and it therefore signals the need to ensure that standards and protocols are in place for the proper disposal and treatment of such waste. The Government of Jamaica (GoJ) remains committed to minimising the environmental impact of DSO and all other initiatives and practices with which the Industry engages which threatens to increase Jamaica’s carbon footprin