Bridgetown, Barbados. August 17, 2021. Members of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, CBU wrapped up their 52nd Annual General Assembly on Tuesday calling for a strong effort to counter the current unleashing of unverified information about the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) mainly through social media channels. The Union, which is made up primarily of broadcasting and print organisations say a deluge of claims, theories and beliefs are being paraded to citizens of the region, who are now either confused or frightened into inaction by them. They have said that well-researched information from credible sources that can help contain the spread of COVID-19 and guide people on best practices in the pandemic are being ignored, in deference to other outlandish claims.
CBU Members from more than 15 countries reported on the mainly negative impact of COVID-19 on their operations and businesses but said most of their staff members have remained uninfected and healthy during the pandemic. The exception was Jamaica, where numerous cases of the virus was reported to have afflicted media workers with at least two deaths being linked to the disease.
The media entities said that without taking a position for or against vaccinations against the disease, it was clear that audiences were being confused by some of the messaging in social media and no clear communications strategy had emerged from health authorities to counter this development.
Most media reported a decline in business, due to increased costs and declining revenues due to the pandemic, with Jamaica being the exception, reporting improved profitability during the period.
The media professionals agreed that in the past year media have been forced to focus more on their customers’ needs rather than what media think their customers need to have. It was also indicated that greater creativity and use of digital analytical tools were used to add to the attractiveness of media’s offerings to clients.
In the meantime, media entities have again expressed serious concern about the lack of recognition of their intellectual property rights as many commercial users believe they can simply take and use their content on different platforms without negotiating acceptable arrangements for such use.
They have echoed the sentiments of their outgoing President Gary Allen, who on Monday called on policymakers to join Australia, Europe and North American moves to require internet-based tech companies to negotiate fair usage arrangements with journalistic based local media for use of their content on their global platforms.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas, Mrs. Kayleaser Deveaux-Isaacs was elected the new president of the CBU with Mrs. Claire Grant of Radio and Television Jamaica being elected Vice President, with Anthony Greene (of STARCOM Network Inc., Barbados), Sushilla Jadoonanan (DirecTV Caribbean in Trinidad and Tobago), as well as Dionne John (National Broadcasting Corporation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines) being re-elected to the Board. The other members of the Board are Richard Purcell of CCN-TV6 (Trinidad and Tobago), Keith Campbell (Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica), Christopher Jarrett of Radio Turks and Caicos, as well as Emiliana Bernard-Stephenson of Teleislas, Colombia. Outgoing President Gary Allen of the RJRGLEANER Communications Group in Jamaica was not eligible for re-election, having served four consecutive years in that position.