Television needs definition

Following a controversy between the Information and Communications Technology Authority and Cayman Net News last week, ICTA chairman Dave Archbold said the Authority needs to refine the definition of television programming.

‘We’ve never had a situation where it has become an issue before,’ Mr. Archbold said.

‘We have got to narrow down (the definition of television programming) even further than it is now.’

Net News reported last Wednesday the ICTA would immediately require licensing of Internet television, specifically online streaming video. The story was based on a notice published in Cayman Islands Gazette on 25 July.

The ICTA responded the same day with a press release refuting the Cayman Net News story, saying it was based on ‘a complete misunderstanding’ of the Gazette notice.

‘The notice makes it clear that a video on demand licence in not required if the service is delivered over the public Internet,’ the press release said. ‘It further states that that the video on demand licence does not cover the provision of television service.’

On Friday, however, Net News responded with a front-page article stating it was sticking to its story, and pointed to a section of the notice, which stated the video on demand licence type ‘addresses the offering of streaming of video material’.

Net News maintained the wording of the Notice was ‘somewhat ambiguous’ because it provided exceptions of what is considered video on demand services for video streaming on the public Internet, and for when the video material was considered television programming.

Mr. Archbold said the exemption did not mean that television programming delivered on the Internet did not require a licence, only that it did not require a video on demand licence.

Television programming requires a licence under the type television services no matter how it is delivered, Mr. Archbold said.

However, the term television programming is not specifically defined in ICTA law.

‘The question is, where does the streaming of video clips become television programming,’ Mr. Archbold said.

Although there had been no decision as to how to make the distinction, the ICTA is looking at two criteria as indicating television programming.

‘First, is it multi-case, meaning everyone sees the same thing at the same time’ he said.

‘Secondly, is it scheduled programming, meaning you could expect to turn it on and see the news at 6 o’clock and so forth.’

Mr. Archbold said advertising revenue was also a consideration in determining television programming.

‘But you have to be careful with that, because many websites have advertising.’

The Gazette notice stated the addition of the video on demand licence type was made in response to requests from the industry.

Mr. Archbold said the requests had nothing to do an attempt by someone already in the industry to restrict anything Cayman Net News or its affiliate entities were doing, as suggested in the Net News editorial last Wednesday.

‘There have been no complaints whatsoever,’ Mr. Archbold said. ‘We simply had some companies which wish to provide a new service contact us to tell us what they wanted do.’

One new service would have films of customers’ choosing provided by Internet streaming by a licensed telecommunications provider.

This service would fall under the new ICTA licence type, Mr. Archbold said.