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CBU Appeals For Regional Support Against “Infodemic” Relating To COVID-19 As Media Commit To Doing More In Pandemic Challenges

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. 

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