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Trinidadians and other fans of Carnival living abroad may be facing a blackout after the tendering process for the television production rights to stream a dozen Carnival shows and mas online were quashed by the National Carnival Commission (NCC). The decision means while Carnival can still be streamed online, the video may not be professionally produced to a high standard as originally planned. Further, the professional companies previously interested in doing so may not, meaning there may be no proper streaming of shows and mas during the season. NCC chair Allison Demas yesterday confirmed the move, adding only that the decision was made on “legal grounds.” In a brief interview, Demas said: “There were two tendering processes, one for broadcast rights and one for the television production rights. That one (television production rights) has been withdrawn on legal grounds and letters were sent to the various media houses.”
But producer, director and writer Danielle Dieffenthaller described the move as backward and one which could result in a poor quality product being put out from entities or individuals who may still decide to stream events. Bids closed on November 6 last year and the companies that tendered were Advance Dynamics, Vistrac Ltd and Cedar House, Dieffenthaller’s company. The T&T Guardian was told, however, that another company, which did not bid, would have been awarded the contract. Demas denied that. Dieffenthaller said she met an evaluation committee in late January and was asked to supply additional information, including the number of crew members. But the entire process, she added, was a waste of time. She said the NCC should have had the courtesy to inform production houses much earlier that the tendering process would be null and void. She was told of the decision to cancel the process in a letter sent to her on February 6.
On what that meant for this year’s Carnival, Dieffenthaller said: “Carnival will still be streamed, for example, via CNMG. “But the NCC wanted to do something different to showcase our Carnival.
Those who bid would have done the production, then they (NCC) would have taken it and streamed it to whoever they want.“Since the entire thing has been cancelled what it means is that anyone with a camera who has a stream can stream it on the internet but what quality would the world be seeing and how would our Carnival be portrayed?” She said the asking price for the bids was “$6 million and under,” which she added was a drop in the bucket. Urging the NCC to implement better guidelines for next year, Dieffenthaller added: “This was really not good planning, to say the least. An important part of the whole process is the broadcast which you are selling. “I have people on standby but it’s a good thing most of my people are freelancers.” Efforts to contact CNMG CEO Ken Ali yesterday were unsuccessful as calls to his cellphone went unanswered.
NCC’s cancellation letter
The T&T Guardian obtained a copy of the letter sent to bidders on behalf of the NCC by attorney Dharmendra Punwasee of Victoria Chambers, 24 Victoria Square West, Port-of-Spain. It read: “My instructions are that the NCC issued a request for the proposal for the television broadcast rights for 12 of the main events for the Carnival 2014 season. Subsequent to the said request the NCC received a number of bids including one from your company. “The submitted bids were evaluated and subsequently the NCC's board was provided with an assessment of the bids, including the price tendered by each bidder,” the letter said.
It added that owing to “tender prices and adjusted tender prices being so unexpectedly elevated” and on the basis of expert advice given to the board, the NCC had resolved not to pursue the project contemplated in proposals. “The board wishes to thank you for your interest and will take steps in the future to refine the terms of the request for proposals in an effort to regulate the financial burden and manage the technical challenges encountered this year.”