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Government writes Karib Cable on premium package update

Government writes Karib Cable on premium package update

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The government has written to Karib Cable asking for an update on two of five undertakings the company agreed to at an October 15 meeting with Ministry of Telecommunication officials.{{more}}

Tricia Pompey, permanent secretary in that ministry, in a November 26 letter to Kelly Glass, manager of Karib Cable, asked for an update on its agreement to “explore the possibility of providing three movie channels and one western channel of equivalent quality to those that were removed from the premium package”.

Pompey also wanted an update on the company’s agreement to provide the ministry with copies of its agreements with channel providers for advertising to be carried out on the channel.

The government official further asked Glass to sign and return the duplicate of the letter “that you are in full agreement with items 3 to 5”.

Items 3 to 5 are as follows:

3. Recordings will be made on channels [Karib Cable] is in control of for a thirty-day period;

4. Issues of quality will be addressed expeditiously by the Company;

5. A Special Agreement between your company and the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines establishing the Services Content Advisory Committee and the composition of channels among other things will be signed by both parties given Cabinet approval. The terms of reference (TOR) developed and approved by Cabinet will guide the functioning of the Services Content Advisory Committee.

The letter, copied to the media, said the October 15 talks discussed Karib Cable’s removal of channels from its premium package.

It also discussed the reasons for differences in the price of the company’s premium package in St Vincent and the Grenadines, in comparison to other countries in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), where the company operates.

The meeting also discussed advertising on other channels.

And, Karib Cable’s sales and marketing manager, Elroy Edwards, said that the company’s manager, Ed Riley, was best positioned to talk about the company’s pact with the government.

But this publication failed in repeated attempts to reach Riley for comment. His staff has said he was in meetings or out of office and he did not respond to several requests to return telephone calls.

On October 1, HBO Latin America Group (LAG) and Karib Cable announced that they had signed an agreement for the transmission of the HBO LAG channels.

Under the agreement, Karib Cable broadcasts the HBO/MAX as a Premium package which includes eight channels: HBO, HBO Plus, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO (East), Max, Max HD and Max Prime.

The cable company has also added Sony Entertainment Television, Sony SPIN, AXN, E!, and Warner Channel channels to their line up, at no additional cost to subscribers.

Those new channels have replaced channel’s 15, 16 and 17 (HBO, Showtime, and Starz) — the three movie channels previously available for customers who subscribed to the basic package.

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, who is also Minister of Telecommunications, told Parliament on October 11 that if Karib Cable does not improve its service to Vincentians, he will seek investors to compete with the company.

He said he considers “gross disrespect” the company changing its channel line-up without an explanation to Vincentians.

Karib Cable’s service in St Lucia, is “far superior” to what is being offered in SVG, the prime minister further said.

But Glass said on radio on October 12 that Karib Cable had no control over the situation.

“We have been trying to negotiate for a month or so, but they (HBO) came down on us like a ton of bricks and said that the first of October was the first of October,” Glass said.

He said HBO made two categorical statements — that the cable network will no longer be shown in the basic package and that Starz, Showtime, Encore or Westerns will also not be shown.

“That is what they gave to us and we had to pull the line,” he said.

Glass said HBO had been pulled in St Lucia. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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