Caribbean Region must support its own Cultural Content Economy

Josanne Leonard
Josanne Leonard

Governments, Telecommunications firms and creative enterprises must develop a comprehensive framework to drive competitiveness and better encourage and support producers of cultural content in the Caribbean. This, according Josanne Leonard, a leading Caribbean media, communications and entertainment expert.

Speaking on the topic ‘Developing a Sustainable Content Creation Industry’, at the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) Caribbean ICT Roadshow in St Maarten, Leonard stated that “the value of our cultural economy has been neglected by regional governments and private sector development initiatives”.

In a wide-ranging presentation covering policy and business strategy, Leonard touched on the need for Governments, Telecommunications firms and creative enterprises to flesh out a policy framework for ICT Networks, electronic communications, spectrum, roaming networks, e-commerce and information security.

“It’s not business as usual in the cultural and creative sectors” she said. “Now that local and extra-regional economic shocks have caused massive dislocation in traditional sectors like agriculture, tourism and energy, we have to align creativity, innovation, technology and business entrepreneurship to make and distribute our local cultural content.”

Leonard noted that while the cultural economy is widely recognized as the flagship of the modern knowledge-based economies, the region’s governments were still too slow off the mark in addressing structural imbalances and biases that continue to impact negatively on the cultural sectors.  She added, “We must do a bit of navel gazing quickly to address the barriers that inhibit the wider creation and distribution of local online and mobile content.”

Leonard also highlighted some of the critical next steps, stating “What is required are partnerships geared toward promoting the competitiveness of Caribbean content in music, film, sports and other creative areas through the strengthening of Intellectual Property regimes, interoperability and e-commerce settlement systems and digital rights management to make content secure.”

She continued: “Here in the Caribbean, we should be strategic about increasing integration between tourism and heritage, sports, entertainment to develop and retain lucrative tourism products on which to hang our different and individual appeal.”

Leonard acknowledged that while regional telecoms and ISP’s have made some tentative steps to embrace content, she said there was need for more strategic partnerships with leading content creators and rights holders to build strong online distribution platforms for content.

“Our content producers, aggregators and entertainment enterprises have not been enabled to reach local, Diaspora and new consumers through affordable band width and fast digital networks. It is a paradigm shift that the Caribbean has to embrace more earnestly”, she said.



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