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Rogers: Govt must keep hands off TTT

Published: 
Wednesday, August 30, 2017
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Julian Rogers

The elimination of apparent political control and a greater emphasis on original content are two measures being suggested for Government to consider in its plans to shut down state-owned Caribbean News Media Group (CNMG) television and restart the media house under its former name T&T Television (TTT).

The suggestions were made by media veteran Julian Rogers in a YouTube interview with social media journalist Rhoda Bharath, on her show Straight, No Chaser, over the weekend.

Rogers was a consultant when TTT was rebranded in 2005 and served briefly as CNMG’s chief executive officer, almost a decade later.

Responding to Communications Minister Maxie Cuffie’s announcement of the wind-up of CNMG and return of TTT last week, Rogers said there needed to be clear separation between the Government and the company.

“State ownership does not have to be state control. Nobody has to be dictating anything,” Rogers said as he noted there needed to be buffer systems between the two entities before they restarted TTT’s operations.

Rogers added: “I think he (Cuffie) needs to step back and as a former media professional, he should be looking more than ever for independence.”

He suggested that the apparent political bias of the company was one of the reasons why it was found to be not financially viable.

“CNMG was significantly damaged as a product by the previous administration. If you don’t have credibility and your image is damaged, you are not going to attract the advertising revenue you expect,” Rogers said.

Rogers also admitted that when he was part of the team that rebranded TTT to CNMG, he was not convinced by the then new name.

“There was no much history and nostalgia associated with the brand. We have a whole generation of people raised on TTT,” Rogers said.

He also said the production of original content was vital to making the new revamped entity profitable and being able to compete with local and foreign rivals.

“We really missed the boat with the entry of cable television to really return to our original content. We need to fill our programming with our images,” Rogers said, as he noted it was impossible for local television stations to compete with cable television services in terms of foreign television shows and programmes.

Asked how the company could raise revenue to invest in new local programmes, Rogers said the management needed to be creative.

“What about the oil companies? You can open the floor to people who recognise their corporate social responsibility,” Roger said, as he suggested that initial investments could be recouped through advertising, sponsorship and syndication of the programmes to regional television stations.

Notwithstanding his suggestions, Rogers said the Government had to first define the role of the new entity for the country as it would be initially largely funded by taxpayers.

“The mandate needs to be adjusted in a way that it is clear that it is an attempt to provide the public of T&T with an unrivalled service, funded by taxpayers, that really stands in stark contrast to what the private sector media has been doing,” Rogers said.