Should Gibraltar pour a fortune into this King-size broadcasting monopoly?

If so to speak, local radio stations are two-a-penny, should we pour a fortune into a King-size monopoly in Gibraltar?

At present we have a radio station that makes use of a number of frequencies, and the aim is to remove frequencies from the forces BFBS so that Gibraltar can have another radio station, all part and parcel of a scheme to strengthen the broadcasting monopoly that exists in Gibraltar which is thought to be against European rules and regulations - in other words, the broadcasting monopoly that we have in Gibraltar, and which is going to be strengthened to a King-size monopoly is probably illegal.

Flowing from the Freedom of the Press, there is the freedom to publish newspapers. This means that any person or group can gather together and publish a newspaper.

But if any person or group wanted to establish a radio station, even within a regulated framework, that would be prohibited by the archaic laws of Gibraltar. Apart from BFBS, which is a military radio station, only what is now known as GBC is permitted to operate as a radio station in the civilian world.

Yet, throughout the democratic world, radio stations blossom, provide alternatives and allow the public to have a choice.

And you do not have to go very far to see what we mean - in the Campo area alone there are some 20 radio stations. In Gibraltar, where we pride ourselves of upholding democratic principles, only GBC radio is allowed!

And what we are talking about are not major, radio networks, but local radio stations

What has been concluded by the Allan King Report is that GBC should close down because it is in a state of collapse. And that a new GBC should replace it.

Why a new GBC operating within the broadcasting monopoly that exists in Gibraltar?

The obvious thing, now that we are in the 21st century, is to take the opportunity that has arisen to unshackle ourselves from monopolistic situations in broadcasting.

Why should the public pay for broadcasting to the extent it does, why should GBC continue to lose the millions it does?

Why cannot there be a Gibraltar Broadcasting Authority which would allocate frequencies to a leaner, more efficient GBC to be the public service broadcaster - and also to others who are qualified and capable of producing exciting alternatives, and introducing much-needed competition, as is the case in other places?

It is by doing so that there can be a real attempt at reducing the public subsidy.

A broadcasting authority could well come under the already existing Gibraltar Regulatory Authority, which by chance is already headed by an experienced broadcaster Paul Canessa.

The future cannot be one where Gibraltar continues to breach European practice and rules, providing the public more of the same at additional cost.

01-03-10



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