Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Cable TV to carry parliamentary sittings live
NORMAN MUNROE, Entertainment Editor
Friday, March 22, 2002



Finance minister, Omar Davies, opening last year's budget debate in the House of Representatives. Information minister, Colin Campbell, is hoping to have the debates carried live on cable next month. (Observer file photo)

THE government is hoping that the regular showing, on cable television, of sittings of parliament and of meetings of House committees will begin on April 4, to coincide with the start of the next parliamentary year.

Speaking at the launch of a line of new video products produced by the Creative Production and Training Centre, at the Hilton Kingston Hotel on Tuesday, Information Minister Colin Campbell, said that he had hoped that the system, which is to be co-ordinated via CPTC, would have been up and running already, however, technical problems delayed the completion of the project.

Campbell said the launch of this system "for want of a better expression as Jamaica's C-Span," referring to the American television channel which broadcasts sittings of the US legislature, was, in his view, an exciting prospect.

"[This because] now at this stage of our development, 40 years after gaining independence, that we can bring our parliament, which is the essence of Jamaican democracy, into the homes of people so that we can have a better interactive mode of operating our democracy, rather than just the top down approach."

Speaking with the Observer after the function, the information minister said that the project, a joint one between his ministry and the CPTC, would see the feed from Gordon House being transmitted back to the production house's Arnold Road studios, from where it would be distributed to all the cable companies using the CTV channel.

CTV is CPTC's cable channel, which is carried by most cable operators across the island.

Campbell said the main problem was the inability to split the signal at the point of re-distribution to the cable channels. This, he said, requires a particular piece of equipment, which efforts are currently being made to acquire.

If the April 4 deadline is missed, Campbell said, he would then set his sights on having the system up and running in time for the start of the budget debate, about two to three weeks thereafter.

The annual, recurrent cost of running the project, he said, would be about $2.5 million.

And while noting CPTC's ability to produce content for local cable television, he reiterated a warning to cable operators, to fall in line with the government's ongoing programme of compliance regarding the proper licensing for use, of intellectual property, by the cable industry.

"...And those cable companies who have not respected intellectual property rights and copyright in general, we're going to pull the plug...," Campbell said, pointing out that cable operators would then need to source content from local producers.

Three new programmes on video-tape and one story rendered on CD were launched by the CPTC.

The video programmes include a series focusing on the island's parishes, individually, created from the popular Hill an Gully Ride programmes. Programmes on seven parishes have been completed and are available, with that on Kingston and St Andrew currently in production. The remainder are to gradually be made available. Those now available are St Ann, St Elizabeth, St James, St Mary, Portland, Trelawny and Westmoreland.

Another, entitled Rivers, Waterfalls and Caves of Jamaica visits the Mayfield Falls in Westmoreland, the nearby Cabarito River, Roaring River also in that parish, as well as a tour of the Roaring River Caves. The third programme, entitled Land of Wood and Water, highlights the country's beauty, culture and heritage and includes traditional and National songs and symbols and traditional folk dances and music.

The folk tale, entitled The Dancing Donkey of Old Rose Hall is written by Cynthia Wilmot for children.