Four popular free to air networks are expected to be pulled from local subscription TV broadcasters from January 1, 2020.
Fans of Fox network’s Walking Dead, NBC’s the Voice, Days of Our Lives and Suits, CBS’ NCIS and ABC’s The View and Jimmy Kimmel may be forced to seek alternative ways to keep up to date with the shows as the Telecommunications Authority of T&T is clamping down on service providers who have not been compliant with intellectual property rights.
Acting CEO of TATT, Cynthia Reddock-Downes, said the authority’s period of forbearance on the transmission of foreign free to air networks has ended.
“We have advised service providers that from the first of January 2020 we will be requiring them to provide their contracts for any channels they carry and if they carry any free to air channels they will be advised they cannot do so,” she said.
Reddock-Downes said although the decision by TATT comes in the absence of any recent meetings with stakeholders, the move is no surprise.
“We haven’t had any recent meetings. We had meetings some years ago and we told them about the forbearance period but certainly, we had no recent meetings but they have been notified with what is happening.”
In 2015, TATT cut 16 channels after subscription TV providers were not compliant with intellectual property rights. In this case, it appears the Caribbean does not have the rights to broadcast these free to air stations and the US authorities are clamping down on such activity.
Reddock-Downes explained that while the move could strike a blow to the profitability of operators, she is confident they will be able to secure other attractive content.
“Operators have alternatives. They may be able to get licenses for individual programme content and therefore show the programmes,” she said.