Radio is the oldest, most popular electronic medium, which was introduced to Jamaica in the 1930s. The popularity of radio listening continues to be reflected in the interest in establishing new services, which broaden the range of programming available.
The years 1988 to1992 were very exciting times for radio in particular, for it was being transformed by the introduction of niche programming. During that period, five new services were licensed, among which were stations fashioned around the genres of religion and reggae. This trend of niche programming was a general indicator of the direction of Jamaican radio. This was supported by the more recent licensing experience of 1992 – 1996, where the four new media services, commonly designated as "community radio services" direct their programming to a clearly defined audiences.
With the government's approval for the implementation of a licensing framework that is cognisant of the wide range of possible media services, the radio landscape can be expected to show growth.
Local broadcast television, like radio, has benefitted from the addition of new services over the past ten years. The grant of two new TV licences in 1991 and 1992 marked the end of a period where the television market had been controlled by one entity.
As with radio, the new licensing framework, which begins with the reclassification of licences, will prompt expansion as well as support the introduction of new approaches to operations and programming.
Television continues to be an important tool for information, entertainment and education for Jamaicans with sets in the majority of households. The Commission's role is to make sure that television programming meets established and developing standards. Television stations are held responsible for everything they put on air, including advertising.
There are 29 companies licensed to broadcast in Jamaica.
Subscriber (Cable) Television
Subscriber television, or cable TV, is a popular form of home entertainment in many Jamaican households. The industry was brought under the umbrella of the law on July 1, 1998 when licences were first issued. That was almost fifteen years after its emergence as an entertainment option associated with the hospitality sector.
The Commission monitors the operations of STV services, ensuring that standards are maintained and that permission is received for the programming used, including music. The Commission also has an important role in encouraging the development of new channels for the exposure of material produced in Jamaica and the Caribbean, as well as access for the Jamaican public to more sources of information to meet the growing demand for information and home entertainment.
The following is a list of the licensed subscriber television operators in Jamaica along with the zones which they serve.
Low Power FM Broadcasting Stations
These radio stations do not hold broadcast licences. They are given a permit to use the spectrum for broadcasting to limited areas, usually a ten mile radius.