By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Chairman of the ECCO Musical Rights Inc., (ECCO), supports the initiative being undertaken by the ministry responsible for Information and Broadcasting in developing a Draft Bill for the Broadcasting Industry.
“Chairman David Jordan stated that ECCO welcomes consultations with stakeholders which solicits their input with this novel legislation.” He notes, however, that “this is only part of a journey which started in 2004,” adding, “It is about time to bring this to its logical reality after a full 18 years.”
The chairman recalls ECCO’s meeting with the minister on April 7, 2022, and recognized that the Draft Bill being pursued will also complement the work and mandate of ECCO, as it seeks to work in the interest of Music writers; and will also address matters discussed at the ministerial level last April.
The communique revealed the level of communication between the parties as follows:
“ That an ECCO Inc., license should be recognized as part of the body of the pre-requisite arrangements for broadcasters when obtaining new licenses and or renewing a broadcasting license. The minister advised that a proposed new Broadcast Bill in Saint Lucia is being drafted. It is expected that with this development, ECCO Inc., should be equipped with the appropriate legislative support together with the upgrade of the copyright legislation to improve the governance of the sector. The minister highlighted how there will be scope for consultations and the input by ECCO Inc., and its members, and music creators and users alike.
The meeting discussed the quota of local content which could be implemented and applied seasonally in the interest of music creators and users through legislation, policy and more assertive advocacy by music creators and users in the region.
“Further discussed the emergence of changes in the broadcasting sector since the emergence of internet radio stations. The narrative shared expressed was such that these new developments ought to be regulated. It was noted that since the current legislation and regulations do not cater for those recent developments in the industry there is clear understanding that there is the need for updated legislation with greater enforcement measures coupled with upgrades in order to address the modern current trends in the industry.”
According to deputy permanent secretary, ministry of tourism, investment, creative industries, culture and information, Lenita Joseph, who is spearheading the groundwork with the stakeholders, inclusive of the Registrar of Companies and Intellectual Property (ROCIP), the Chamber of Commerce, National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, ( NTRC) and (other entities), stated:
“That the series of consultations with Broadcasters over these two sessions May 12 – 13, 2022 will offer the opportunity to continue to fine-tune the Draft Bill for consideration by cabinet and its subsequent enactment by the Parliament of Saint Lucia.”
Deputy permanent secretary, Joseph, further advised that the review of the Draft Bill has highlighted a number of issues to be explored including:
- The establishment of a Broadcasting Authority to oversee the issuance, administration, and monitoring of broadcast licenses;
- Clearer definition of the roles and responsibilities of various agencies with overlapping functions such as ECTEL and NTRC;
- Ensuring regional applicability and enforceability of broadcast and copyright laws;
- Establishing a local content quota as a condition of a broadcast license to provide greater economic benefit to local artists.
- Setting standards for the quality of programming offered by various broadcast media.
“Once enacted, that sector will benefit from a more regulated system for the issuance of broadcast licenses, improved compliance, collection and disbursement of royalties and formulation of a policy to increase local content on our airwaves,” said Joseph.
ECCO Musical Rights Inc., has been represented at those consultations before; and on this occasion, officer in charge/membership officer, Keen Cotter, and ECCO chairman Jordan, were participants at the consultation held this week.
“The Draft Bill seeks to regulate and license broadcasters and will enable ECCO to have an authoritative link with Broadcasters in Saint Lucia and complement the Copyright Act of 2003 with its amendments,” said ECCO chairman, Jordan.
However, in this vein, chairman Jordan underscored the need for engagement of the OECS Secretariat and ECTEL – as well as the need to encourage other OECS jurisdictions to adopt the same and/or similar legislation in respective territories of the OECS.