Lawmakers put local cable providers under the microscope, flagging license requirements as it pertains to free local tv content.
The issue was raised in the Finance Committee in the LA on Friday (5 April.)
Some MLAs pointed out television cable providers may not be fulfilling their requirements when it comes to broadcasting free local content.
And they said carrying Government Information Services, CIGTV, is not enough.
Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders questioned how the license requirement for local content is tabulated.
“I just want to understand if those local providers carrying CIGTV, would that be used to satisfy their requirement for local content?” he quizzed.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin indicated it did, to an extent.
“Partially, I do not think it is enough to meet the requirement, but in part yes,” the Premier responded.
Alee Fa’amoe, acting OfReg CEO, was brought before the Committee to answer questions.
He explained that local content now has a definition.
“What we have come up with is a definition of what we mean by local content which is local news, weather, sports, community events and Government information. Based on that list Government Information would only one part of 5 to define local content. Providers would still have to figure out how they are going to provide the other four,” Mr. Fa`amoe explained.
East End MLA Arden McLean said based on the requirements outlined cable providers are not meeting their license requirements.
“That means 20% of their thing (license) you name five and CIGTV is one. CIGTV is only providing 20 % of it, there is 80% that needs to be provided free on air,” Mr. McLean said.
This point was further emboldened by Mr. Saunders.
“The TV providers have a responsibility to free local content and if it is a situation now that the government is using public funds to generate free local content then question is when do we expect or do we expect a portion of this cost to be borne by the people who should have been incurring this cost to begin with. What we do not want is we using public funds for something that they should be paying for, ‘cos if that is the case we should not be voting for this money,” Mr. Saunders said.
Lawmakers were told CIGTV is not free to air and can only be seen on cable and online.
Mr. Faamoe said his team is in consultation with industry stakeholders to determine what local content looks like exactly and how it should be carried.