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URCA’s Integrity Questioned

Political activist Rodney Moncur is questioning the integrity of the Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) and revealed last night that the authority’s chairman Randolph Dorsett acted as the lead attorney on the behalf of Cable Bahamas.

His bombshell announcement came during URCA’s public consultation town meeting on Cable Bahamas’ proposal for a 27 per cent or $8 increase in its super basic cable package better known as REVTV prime.

“I am concerned about the integrity of URCA. Is URCA aware that Randy Dorsett is the lead attorney for Cable Bahamas,” he asked.

URCA’s panel which consisted of Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Smith and Director of Policy Steven Burrow had no reply for Mr. Moncur’s query, which stirred up the crowd gathered at Holy Cross Activities Centre.

Mr. Moncur was one of scores of Bahamians who lined up to express their outrage on Cable Bahamas suggestion that it should get an increase.

In fact, he said that he was one of the many Bahamians who have been “robbed” by the company.

“When I decided to get cable I went and I instructed counsel and I said ‘counsel I have heard many bad reports about Cable Bahamas so I want you to pay them by cheque.’ And then as the economy deteriorated, my electricity got cut off but my cable was current. And then God made it possible for me to have light and I go to cable and they tell me that I have been late,” he said.

“They charged me an unlawful $127 and I could find no one to sit down with me and go through the cheques that were sent to them two, three months in advance.”

He continued, “They have raped this country. They have given us bad service. You can’t find white nor black man to complain to. They are insensitive. Curse be the day that [former] Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham granted this to them.”

Stephen Polaris, a resident of Marathon, said that he cannot fathom why Cable Bahamas would want an increase considering that the economy remains fragile.

He also made the point that The Bahamas would be “technologically blind” without Cable Bahamas because it is the only service for cable television.

“We as a people are technological hostages. We have no choice. We have only one cable network. There are many persons in our community, especially those who are students and we are concerned about their GPAs, who must use the internet in order to increase their ability to learn. Some of us are old enough to know when we used antennas and we cannot use them anymore. Without Cable Bahamas, we are technologically blind,” he said.

“Secondly, Cable Bahamas by its own public admission has made a profit. But the other part of the coin is since they have been here the cost of living has increased tremendously. A large portion of our population is out of work. That means that our households cannot afford that which we could have afforded 17 years ago.”

Jeff Sands of Golden Isles agrees.

“We are not getting the value for our money and if Cable Bahamas has to get a raise why does it have to be $8 considering the economic climate that we are in? They are already making enough money so why are they trying to ride the backs of Bahamians. We are hoping that you [URCA] understand us as poor Bahamians. ”

Cable Bahamas has argued that it has not seen an increase of rate since its conception in 1995.

It has also argued that compared to 25 regional cable companies, it has among the lowest prices.

But there were a number of Bahamians who begged to differ.

One of them was Judy Culmer of Winton Meadows.

“When Cable Bahamas first came to The Bahamas, you were able to say ‘Look I only want these certain amount of channels.’ It seems as though every few years Cable Bahamas revamps itself, it grows and then it changes into a new animal. So I understand that since the beginning no they say they have not increased their fees. But in actuality they have because you have to pay for their box and you either purchase them or rent them.”

Cable Bahamas officials were present at the meeting, but were not a part of the formal panel.

However, Director of Cable Bahamas Franklyn Butler said after hearing all of scathing critiques, the company will take all that was said at the meeting into consideration.

“The reason why URCA is here is to hear the comments of the consumers. We recognise that we have some challenges. But the reality is that we have about 600 employees that are Bahamian and work for Cable Bahamas. And the most important thing that we think will come out of this issue is that we are here to regulate and we have an obligation to listen to the Bahamian people and try to improve our service,” he said.

“This is for URCA to consider. We have been given a process in which we apply to URCA. URCA is doing the consultation and that is why we have not responded to many of the complaints that we have heard here. We have provided our justification for a price increase and I am satisfied that those justifications are sound.”

Super basic cable television is a price regulated service. Cable Bahamas must therefore first obtain URCA’s written approval before it can make any price changes to the basic cable TV package.

This is not the last meeting URCA will have.

It plans to have another meeting in New Providence later this month.

The regulations authority also plans to have town meetings in Abaco, Exuma, Long Island and Grand Bahama.

The consultation will be open for public comment until October 19. The consultative document is available on URCA’s website

Interested persons can also contact URCA by telephone 393-0234 or email them at

Written by Jones Bahamas

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