CVM blasted for 'poor' Games coverage
Olympic television company CVM has been ordered to "immediately" improve its coverage of the London Games.
The Broadcasting Commission issued a notice of breach of licence to the TV company yesterday, complaining of "poor to very poor" coverage.
The broadcaster is failing to provide service to a "number of areas", it said in its statement.
But CVM's chief executive, Al Edwards, rejected the criticisms, saying they were "unjust and unfair".
"There's no entity in this country that can give you 100 per cent, island-wide coverage," he said.
The commission instructed CVM to provide a solution that could include giving up its exclusive rights to the Games in some parts of the island.
The regulator also warned that it "will use its full powers to protect the public interest by insisting that such [exclusive] arrangements do not result in thousands of Jamaicans being deprived of access to coverage of the Olympic Games".
However, Edwards said there was no way that he was going to surrender the exclusive licence to broadcast the Games. "We're not going to share those rights with any little Mickey Mouse cable operator."
Failure to comply with the remedial action demanded by the commission could lead to the station being suspended under section 22 of the Broadcasting and Radio ReDiffusion Act.
CVM's Olympic coverage got off to a rocky start with the opening ceremony on Friday frequently being interrupted with notices saying that the signal was of poor quality.
Some viewers also complained that the local commentator was talking over the British presenters, making it difficult to understand either of them.
CVM said that the signal was bad when it arrived on the island. "We don't determine what comes through that feed," said Edwards. "We don't have cameras in London."
He acknowledged the problem with the local voice-over, saying it was stopped part way through the ceremony after he personally intervened.
The Broadcast Commission said it had warned CVM about its service long before the opening ceremony.
Portland, St Thomas, St Mary, Clarendon, Manchester and Trelawny are among the areas where the commission has had concerns for months.
It gave the company a technical survey on the level and quality of coverage in May.
And it summoned the management of CVM to appear before it on June 7 to report on steps being taken to address poor reception.
"CVM acknowledged its breach of licence and gave an undertaking to work assiduously to improve coverage," the commission said on its website. "CVM also indicated that, particularly in eastern Portland, it had set a clear deadline to do so before the Olympics."
Edwards said the company has increased its coverage of the island from around 60 per cent to over 70 per cent with new antennas and more powerful transmitters.
The company's engineers, supported by consultants, have been working tirelessly to improve the service, Edwards said. "We've spent thousands of US dollars. The bills are stacking up on my desk."
But the island's topography makes full coverage impossible. "There are certain rural areas where people can't see us. That's just the way it is," he said.
The commission said it was "dissatisfied" with the latest written submission from the broadcaster last Wednesday detailing the work done to improve its quality of service.
CVM holds exclusive rights to broadcast the Games in Jamaica under International Media Content, which has the television rights to the Olympics in 18 Caribbean countries.