House: Gibbons begins broadcast policy review
Grant Gibbons, Minister of Economic Development, has begun a review of the Government's existing policies and legislation relating to local broadcasting, both radio and television.
The minister told MPs that some of the policies date back to 1980 and need amendment.
He said he had been in talks with industry stakeholders over issues including local content policies, programme content and advertising rules, and that public consultation would take place in due course.
“Developments over the past decade, particularly the transition from analogue to digital technology, have affected the ways in which consumers in Bermuda and around the world access news, information and entertainment,” Dr Gibbons said in a ministerial statement at the House of Assembly.
“Increasingly, consumers access audiovisual content from a variety of platforms including: free over-the-air broadcast radio or television services; subscription audiovisual services delivered by cable systems and satellite service providers; and ‘over-the-top' services on the internet that may be accessed using fixed and mobile devices.
“In light of these changes, and as the minister responsible for telecommunications, I have commenced a review of the Government's existing policies and legislation relating to free-to-air broadcasting, both radio and television, many of which date back to the 1980s, which I intend to consider in the broader context of the evolving audiovisual media services sector.”
Dr Gibbons said his review would be a continuation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Reform, a multi-phased initiative, which began in 2009 and has already seen the introduction of the Regulatory Authority.
He said the next phase of the telecommunications regulatory reform initiative, which has already started, focuses on the modernisation of the legislative and regulatory framework for broadcast communications.
“I have begun the process by seeking input from the industry on a number of fundamental issues,” Dr Gibbons said.
“Our key industry stakeholders include the providers of free broadcast television and radio services, subscription television service operators, entities that deliver content over leased cable channels and internet-based content providers.
“The list of preliminary issues includes licensing policies, local content policies, programme content and advertising rules.
“Based on the input received from industry, as well as my review of best practices in other jurisdictions, and giving full consideration to the needs and concern of the people of Bermuda, I will issue a draft ministerial policy statement regarding the regulation of broadcasting and other audiovisual media services.
“At that time, I will engage the wider public by conducting a public consultation on the policy statement. After giving due consideration to the comments, I will issue the policy statement, which will provide the basis for the legislation that the Government intends to table in this House.”