The utility regulator and competition authority has ordered Cable Bahamas Limited to immediately cease airing a political advertisement by Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip “Brave” Davis that was shown on its channels.
In a July 23 letter, URCA CEO J Carlton Smith said the agency had opened a full investigation into a complaint regarding the complaint relating to the PLP and its leader.
The investigation is in accordance with Section 9 of the Communications Act 2006 and Section 10.10 of URCA’s Content Regulation: Code of Regulation (revided) – ECS 08/2020, also known as the Content Code.
PLP chairman Fred Mitchell earlier this week described the complaint as “defamatory and offensive” and threatened CBL would be sued if the complaint was not withdrawn. He also called for the intervention of URCA.
The letter states: “In addition, URCA believes that the risk of serious and irreparable harm to Complainants in this matter warrants an injunction under Section 96 of the Comms Act and Section 10.11 of the Content Code.
“As such, URCA has issued an injunction to CBL on this matter, obliging CBL to immediately cease and refrain from broadcasting advertising relating to the Hon. Phillip E” Brave “Davis and the Progressive Liberal Party, unless and until until further notice in writing from URCA. “
On July 20, McKinney, Turner & Co Counsel and Attorney-at-Law on behalf of Mr. Davis and the PLP filed a formal complaint with URCA against CBL.
The complaint alleged that CBL has been broadcasting political advertisements on multiple cable television and other media platforms through REVMedia since July 12, defaming both the party and Mr Davis.
In addition, the allegation states that CBL failed and / or refused to uniquely identify the political ad as being of a political nature whenever possible at the beginning and automatically at the end. Neither was it made clear that the ad was served on behalf of a particular candidate or organization and / or was paid for by a party.
The order states: “URCA is of the opinion that the alleged conduct of CBL and Be Alive in accordance with Section 2 above, among other things, may violate Section 6.8 (1) and 6.6 of the Code of Conduct.
“Given the widespread advertising reach of CBL in the Bahamas and possibly beyond, URCA continues to believe the alleged conduct, as set out in Section 2 above, is of sufficient urgency to warrant the issuance of this injunction because of the risk of serious and irreparable damage Damage to the character and reputation of the Hon. Phillip E “Brave” Davis, QC, MP Leader of the opposition and the Progressive Liberal Party if the behavior is not addressed immediately. “
She said the details of the likely serious and irreparable damage include, without limitation, the loss of character and reputation, whether in time or material, of Mr. Davis and / or the PLP, and where permissible, political advertising can set a precedent and a legitimate one Creating trust for other licensed broadcasters that would contradict the basic principles of broadcasting in the Bahamas regarding standards and decency.
Failure to comply with the order could force URCA to take serious action, including revoking the CBL license, among other things, as set out in the order.