Channel lineup changing following takeover
The new owners of Cayman’s biggest television company Weststar say the channel lineup offered to viewers is changing as they attempt to secure distribution agreements for existing and new programming.
Logic, which took over the business following a buy-out in September, declined to comment directly on claims that, under previous ownership, several channels were sold to Cayman Islands customers without licensing or distribution agreements.
But it says changes to the lineup, including an agreement with HBO Latin America, are designed to ensure it complies with its responsibilities to content providers.
HBO had previously complained to the Information Communications and Technology Authority about Weststar, claiming the company was intercepting broadcasts in the U.S. and selling the content in Cayman, without an agreement. At the time, then ICTA managing director David Archbold said it was not clear that what the television company was doing was illegal and that HBO would have to bring a civil case in the Cayman courts before the authority could step in.
Despite complaints from some viewers, Logic sought this week to present the recent changes to its lineup as an improvement.
“The changes that occurred over the past couple of weeks are a direct result of new content distribution agreements that Logic was able to secure for its subscribers,” a spokeswoman told the Cayman Compass.
“It is normal for a channel lineup to evolve over time due to customer demands or availability of new regional distribution rights.”
The company claims the reaction from viewers has been “largely positive.” But not everyone agrees.
One viewer, in a letter copied to the Compass, complained that several channels had been cut and that others contain a mix of English content and Spanish advertising.
“Having intermittent programming, blank screens, Spanish filler programming is not what I pay for and not the customer experience I expect in an English-speaking country,” the viewer wrote.
Asked if Logic was committing only to sell content for which it had distribution rights, the spokeswoman said, “We are following our distribution agreements. Changes in the agreements do often result in a change in our channel lineup.”
She added, “Part of Logic’s responsibility as a pay TV service provider is to work with the content providers to renew or secure distribution agreements for existing or new programming for its subscribers.”
Logic says it had notified customers of the changes through an email, which directs them to the Weststar website.
The email states, “You may be pleased to discover that you will now have some additional channels added to the existing programming, such as HBO and Max Caribbean and several Discovery channels. We are happy to be able to offer those to you. We understand there may also be some disappointment as a few of the channels you once had will no longer be available and we are truly sorry about that.”
The rules surrounding television copyright in the Cayman Islands are something of a gray area.
The previous management of Weststar did not deny that they were screening some channels, including HBO, without a licensing agreement but described the issue of programming in the region as “complex” and denied that they were breaking any law.
The Cayman Islands Copyright Law makes no explicit reference to television and it is not clear what law, if any, would apply to intercepted broadcasts.
The new ICTA managing director Alee Fa’Amoe was unavailable for comment last week.