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As Olympics begin, questions remain as to who enforces broadcast rights rules

Utility Regulation and Competition Office Deputy Chief Executive Officer Alee Fa’amoe says all OfReg licensees must follow the rules.

“Buying the rights for any content — whether its online, radio or TV — is really a matter of making sure that the copyright is respected,” Mr. Fa’amoe said.

Cayman 27 has the exclusive rights to broadcast the 2018 Winter Olympics free to air in the Cayman Islands while Jamaica-based Sportsmax owns the rights to broadcast over cable networks.

But say a television provider doesn’t follow the rules — what happens then?

“So we don’t license broadcast in terms of content, we license providers who are selling an ICTA service,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. “The content within that — our law speaks to content being age appropriate and not offending the society, so there’s no specific guidelines within the law to give us powers to say you can broadcast this but you can broadcast that.”

He says those powers lie with the Department of Commerce and Investment. He says that’s the entity present to make sure TV providers abide by the rules.

But DCI would not comment on its role in the matter.

Several emails sent to DCI requesting comment or an interview were returned but no answers were provided.

An email from the department Friday (9 February) only said it was “decided that there needs to be some senior level discussion on this matter. So we are unable to provide you with any information.”

So, at least for now, it remains uncertain who is there to protect providers who shelled out thousands of dollars for broadcast rights. 

Sportsmax has sent out several press releases outlining who has Olympics rights in Cayman and the Caribbean. There have been concerns, however, about satellite providers like Dish Network, which are not licensed by OfReg. 

“Where it becomes tricky is where folks are offering subscriptions that are paid locally,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. “Then you are technically reselling an ICTA service and you need a license for that.”

That seems unlikely to happen by the time these Games are done, however, leaving more uncertainly for those who bought rights with the idea of garnering sponsorship through exclusivity.

About the author

Kevin Morales

Kevin Morales

Cayman 27 News Director Kevin Morales is an award-winning journalist with more than 12 years of experience. Kevin is a Milwaukee, Wis., native. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in journalism in 2005 from the University of Minnesota. He's a proud father and a loyal fan of the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and U of M Golden Gophers.

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