Categorized | National News

BTC Files Complaint with URCA

The Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) has filed an official Dispute Report with the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA) over Cable Bahamas’ (CBL) refusal to air BTC’s television advertisements.

Senior Vice President of Brands and Communication for BTC Marlon Johnson said Cable Bahamas is in direct violation of several URCA regulations and guidelines including Section 67 of the Communications Act, a series of agreements prohibiting communication companies from restricting or distorting competition.

“The essence of our complaint is that CBL and BTC had entered into a business contract and CBL broke it,” he said.

“Both companies offer telecom and broadband services, and are both therefore potential advertising customers for cable television. It is our view, that by allowing Cable Bahamas’ telecom and/or broadband business to advertise on cable television and not BTC, it is in violation of specific sections of the Communications Act and various provisions within URCA’s Competition Guidelines and Conditions.”

The VP feels as though Cable Bahamas is taking advantage of its position as the only provider of paid television services in The Bahamas to keep competing BTC ads off Cable Television.

“Their actions are singularly protective of their current monopoly status of the only provider of pay television services,” he said.

“They know we are gearing up to enter the market and it would seem they don’t welcome the competition or want to offer a choice of telecom and Broadband service providers for better consumer pricing and value. We feel that their actions in this matter are an abuse of their current dominant position.”

Our news team caught up with URCA’s Director of Policy and Regulation Stephen Bereaux who said that at the moment, he still couldn’t quite comment on the issue.

“URCA is reviewing the complaint in accordance with the processes we have set up,” he said.

“We have competition guidelines as to how a complaint is treated and obviously at this stage our first step is that we’ve acknowledged the complaint and we will be reviewing it.”

“At this stage it is very early and we have a process that we need to follow.”

Although BTC filed the complaint on June 4, Mr. Bereaux said that he’s not too sure when URCA will get around to making a statement on the issue as this kind of matter takes some time to deal with, even on the international level.

“URCA’s indicative time frame at the outset for resolving a complaint, as in finalising it, is actually one year,” he said.
“Obviously if there are urgent issues we can consider a way that we can address them. It happened before. URCA has a number of options and obviously I can’t comment on the issue.”

Now the URCA director did say that after careful review of the complaint and after URCA makes their ruling, the information will be made known to the public.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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