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CNMG axes talk show
Displaced hosts of state-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG’s) Face-off show have expressed concern about the way the programme was suddenly suspended as of yesterday. In the face of allegations that there had been government complaints about the show, Communication Minister Vasant Bharath yesterday denied it was suspended due to any complaint. CNMG CEO Ken Ali confirmed the show had been suspended according to a business decision to make the station more competitive. The talk-show style programme on radio and TV aired nightly from 4 pm to 7 pm on CNMG since last year October.
Those affected by the show’s removal include Face off hosts David Fraser, Phillipe Noguera, freelance host Wesley Gibbings, Michelle Persad and producer Len Thornhill among several others involved in the production aspect, Fraser said. It last aired last week Friday. Co-host Felipe Noguera said, “I got a call from the CEO’s secretary around 8.30 am yesterday informing me the show had been pulled off the air with immediate effect. I asked why and she said she had no reason to give.” “I asked if it had been for a specific period or indefinitely but she said all she could tell me at this time was what she had already said.” Noguera added, “Some of us consulted with our lawyers who have instructed that we show up for work as usual as that was not the proper way for communication to take place on the situation.” “So we’re showing up at CNMG 4 pm as usual (Monday). I have also written CNMG’s CEO asking for a meeting on the issue but I haven’t received a reply from him as we speak (2.30 pm)”
Fraser said he was notified of the suspension “with no reason or prior notice”, by company secretary Betty Cabral at 8.20 am yesterday. He also said his lawyers were examining the situation.
Both Noguera and Fraser went to CNMG at 4 pm but were turned away from CNMG security. Gibbings said he’d been a freelance host with the show three days a week. He also said he’d received a call from the CEO’s secretary about suspension of the show. Gibbings, added: “I think the programme attempted to bring balanced perspectives to the news of the day and had some value. But I was never deluded into believing this was not in the face of tremendous negative odds.” Asked to detail the “tremendous negative odds,” Gibbings declined. He confirmed Opposition PNM officials had been interviewed on the show since last year.
Other sources claimed there had been negative feedback from some government quarters that the show on the state-owned station hadn’t been doing enough to highlight government’s achievements. Persad said she was informed of the immediate suspension of the show around that time. Contacted, CNMG CEO Ali said, “We have a business to run and we therefore take business decisions like any other station.” “We continue to try to make our products more competitive and in light of that, these developments have occurred, we are in a very competitive environment as you know.” Ali said CNMG was simply bidding for a larger audience and a greater share of the television revenues. Communications Minister Bharath - under whose Ministry CNMG falls told T&T Guardian he had spoken to CNMG’s chairman and CEO and they had said it was a board decision based on the ratings of Face off. Bharath added he’d been told it was a commercial decision which had been taken and the show was being reviewed at this time.