ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Viewers across the region have dubbed the Olympic coverage provided across the Caribbean region, by Jamaica based International Media Content Ltd (IMC) the “worst” in history.
While the IMC’s aim was to use its exclusive broadcast rights to tailor the coverage to Caribbean tastes, residents in the region said despite 24-hour coverage of the days’ events in London, the quality is so poor they feel cheated.
Among the complaints being made by consumers are the untimely switching from one event to another, audio drop-outs, lengthy commentary between events without video and the absence of other events not involving Caribbean athletes.
However, ICM has reportedly pledged improved services.
At home here, the two local cable companies Karib Cable and CTV are also being blamed for the poor service, while others have criticised state-owned ABS television for cutting the Olympic feeds and not allowing coverage around the clock.
However, Telecommunications Minister Dr Edmond Mansoor has defended the three entities and laid the blame squarely at the feet of IMC, which has invested US $4 million to guarantee fuller coverage of Caribbean competitors.
“What I want to make clear from the outset is that the ICM has the exclusive rights to negotiate both TV and radio broadcast rights for the entire Caribbean region and there is no other entity that has been authorised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to renegotiate these broadcast rights,” Dr Mansoor explained.
That is to say, there is no other entity that ABS, local cable operators and broadcasters or operators in the Caribbean region could turn to for Olympic coverage.
As a result of this several networks such as Bravo, MSNBC, NBC, CBC and NBC Sports (versus) and any other channel on cable are blocked whenever Olympic events are scheduled for streaming.
There are some 5,000 hours worth of programming across 27 different sporting disciplines.
Consequent to being bombarded with complaints, Dr Mansoor said the IMC has since promised to decrease the amount of time spent providing in-studio commentary and less time bridging from one sport to another.
Additionally, IMC has opened up more feeds across the Internet and those are also available to both local cable companies Karib Cable and CTV.
These feeds are Internet based with no commentary. The minister said they offer only “natural sounds” and any requests for providing commentary on these would incur substantial costs to the IMC and these costs would be transmitted to various territories.
As it relates to costs incurred locally due to IMC’s exclusive rights to broadcast, the minister said the government, Karib Cable and CTV shared the bill in equal thirds. He did not, however, indicate the sums paid.
Hence, all three have equal broadcast rights in Antigua & Barbuda.
Channel K45 on Karib Cable and channel 600 on CTV are dedicated to 24-hour coverage, while ABS TV, channel 10 on both cable services, covers the events intermittently to allow for coverage of West Indies cricket and local Carnival events among other programmes.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)