ECS 72/2019 Proposed Revision of The Code of Practice for Content Regulation

The Utilities Regulation and Competition Authority (URCA) is the independent regulator of the Electronic Communications Sector (ECS) in The Bahamas with powers under the Communications Act, 2009 (Comms Act) to, inter alia, issue regulatory and other measures for the purpose of carrying into effect the Electronic Communications Policy objectives.

URCA issues this consultation document in accordance with Part IX of the Comms Act and Clause 1.5 of the Code of Practice for Content Regulation (“the Code”). This consultation document comprises URCA’s proposed revisions to the Code, focused on Part 6 – Political Broadcasts and Political Advertisements, Part 7 – Advertising and Sponsorships, and Part 10 – Complaint Handling Process of the Code. The revisions also represent the combined work of URCA and the Content Regulation Industry Group (“CRIG”) which has been established under section 55 of the Comms Act.

URCA therefore encourages the full participation of members of the public, licensees, stakeholders and other interested parties during this consultation process.

1.1 Background to this Consultation

On 2 March 2012 URCA issued its Final Decision on the Code of Practice for Content Regulation1 (“the Code”) which were to be observed by Licensees providing audiovisual media services in The Bahamas. In 2018, URCA decided to undertake a review of the Code in accordance with its obligation under Clause 1.5 of the Code which requires URCA to formally review the Code after it has been in effect for three (3) years in consultation with the CRIG. In its internal deliberations URCA had itself identified challenges with Part 6 of the Code, which dealt with Political Broadcasts and Political Advertisements, Part 7 dealing with Advertising and Sponsorships, and Part 10 which contains the Complaints Handling Process administered by URCA under the Code.

In June 2019, URCA convened a reconstituted CRIG to work with URCA on the review of the Code, consideration of the need for changes, and preparation of draft amendments where necessary. The review process continued until August 2019. During this period, the Industry Group was invited to consider URCA’s proposed revisions to Parts 6, 7 and 10 of the Code, in conjunction with standards of other jurisdictions and how such jurisdictions treat with similar content related issues. The CRIG was also invited to review the Code as a whole to determine and recommend to URCA any other part of the Code that should be revised.

The Industry Group provided URCA with recommendations and written submissions on the proposed changes to the Code, which have been taken into consideration by URCA.

1.2 Responding to this Consultation

URCA invites written comments and submissions from members of the public, licensees and interested parties on the issues in this consultation document. Persons may deliver their written comments or submissions to URCA’s Director of Electronic Communications either:

· by hand, at URCA’s office at Frederick House, Frederick Street;

· by mail, to P. O. Box N-4860;

· by fax, to (242) 393-0237; or · by email, to

All comments to this consultation document should be submitted on or before 31 January 2020. URCA will acknowledge receipt of all responses.

URCA’s preferred format for written responses is as follows:

· Respondent’s name;

· Name of organisation (or state whether respondent is a consumer);

· Email address of respondent;

· Responses to questions asked under this consultation document; and

· Any other matters you believe URCA should consider under this consultation document.

URCA reserves the right to make all responses available to the public by posting responses online on its website. Responses marked ‘confidential’ should provide reasons to simplify evaluation by URCA of the request for confidentiality. URCA may, in its sole discretion, choose whether to publish any confidential document or submission.