Media Statement: Islandwide Broadcast Coverage Requirement and Public Access to CVM Television Signals for FIFA World Cup 2014
Over the last two years, since 2012, the Broadcasting Commission has been in correspondence and meetings with all broadcasters and cable providers about their coverage range and signal quality being delivered to towns, communities and villages throughout Jamaica, in line with the terms of their licences.
Over the period 2012 to 2014 the Commission supplemented regular technical inspections with a comprehensive audit of coverage by broadcast licensees. The audit revealed, among other things, that there was poor broadcast television coverage, particularly in the eastern parishes of Portland, St. Thomas and St. Mary as well as large sections of Clarendon, Manchester and Trelawny.
Special Focus – CVM
In recent months special focus has been given to CVM Television, consequent on its acquisition of exclusive broadcast rights for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This is an event of special interest to Jamaicans in all parishes, and we have been receiving anxious queries from citizens in several areas concerning ‘no coverage’, ‘poor CVM signals’ and ‘unacceptable reception quality’ by that company.
The most recent set of meetings with CVM on the matter were held on March 27 with the Executive in Charge, and on May 13 with the company’s Chairman. In both meetings, the Commission indicated that CVM’s coverage in several areas of the country was unacceptable.
BCJ Technical Inspections
Technical inspections had revealed that significant sections of the parishes of St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Ann, St. Catherine and St. James were receiving poor, limited or no coverage at all by CVM. In response, the company indicated that it had recognised weaknesses in its transmission service delivery and had embarked on a special programme of repairs and upgrade to its transmission facilities island-wide.
CVM explained that it had installed field effect transistors (FETs). These were reported as yielding better reception in St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Ann, St. Catherine and St. James.
The Commission’s technical inspections found that there were only marginal improvements in some of the indicated areas and that the quality of coverage remained unacceptable. A number of rural areas continued to receive inadequate coverage, the most acute being the east coast of Portland (Boston to Manchioneal) and sections of St. Ann including Claremont, Discovery Bay, Moneague and Ocho Rios.
In view of this, CVM was directed to make further improvements by May 22, 2014. In its latest report CVM indicated further upgrades to its transmitter sites in St. Thomas, Portland, St. Mary, St. Ann, St. Catherine and St. James. CVM also reported some improvement of coverage in sections of St. Thomas (Morant Bay, Seafort and Trinityville); Trelawny (Duncans Hill and Falmouth); St. James (Barrett Town); St. Catherine (Horizon Park, Old Harbour and Old Harbour Bay); and parts of St. Mary and St. Ann.
The most recent preliminary investigations by the Commission suggest some improvements in these areas. However, island wide coverage is still not up to the required standard.
We will continue to insist on upgrades in the remaining two weeks leading up to the start of the World Cup Tournament on June 12. The next review is scheduled for next Friday June 6, by which date improvements are expected to have been made to the reception via cable, particularly in east rural St. Andrew, St. Thomas, Clarendon and Portland. In relation to terrestrial distribution, by next Friday CVM is to have completed upgrades to its transmission infrastructure, specifically in Portland and sections of St. James. This should result in acceptable aerial television reception in areas of Montego Bay and parts of Portland such as Orange Bay, Hope Bay, Fellowship, and Boston Bay.
Public Feedback Requested
We invite the public to continue to report to the Commission all prevailing areas of lack of television coverage by all providers, and in particular by CVM whose exclusive rights to World Cup coverage places it in a special position at this time. All complaints relating to coverage quality may be directed to us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org , telephone 929-1998 or via Facebook and twitter.
The Commission felt it necessary to bring the public up to date on the active regulatory engagements that we have been having with CVM and others since 2012 – over two years – on these issues of islandwide coverage. We feel that rural areas, as much as urban and inner city communities are entitled to satisfactory coverage by providers holding islandwide licences and exclusive broadcast contracts.
We have set certain coverage benchmarks to be complied with by CVM, and will stringently monitor compliance in line with the company’s licence, the broadcasting regulations and relevant laws. We assure the public that the Commission will continue to exert all powers within its regulatory remit to ensure that Jamaicans are provided with broadcasting services of an acceptable technical quality and range of coverage across the island.