Veteran broadcaster challenges regional media

Veteran broadcaster Vic Fernandes is lamenting the state of regional media and has called for Caribbean owners to take a stand on issues of digital transformation and standards.

Fernandes, who served as CEO of Starcom Network for 26 years, issued the appeal last night at an awards dinner hosted by the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association.

In a speech on The role and responsibility of media in a changing landscape, he said quality and standards are under “severe threat” with increasing mediocrity on both radio and television, with many “sacrificing the need to get it right”.

Our industry has changed dramatically and at a dizzying speed, technology is the new engine. I submit however that media leaders should occupy the driver’s seat, always mindful of the responsibilities that we undertake when we step up to be the public voice of our people and our region,” he said.

Technology is simply a platform on which the train runs, it is not the train itself, it is a tool but a meaningless tool if we fail to exploit it by ensuring that our country our region and the world is aware of who we are, our values, our dreams, our aspirations and our achievements, who will tell our story if we don’t? We have the resources, but do we have the will?”

The 40-year media veteran described Caribbean broadcasting as being “barely breathing to comatose”.

“Today, the CMC and its subsidiary Caribvision are in intensive care; neither enjoys support from Caricom and only some broadcasters offer limited acceptance of the content offerings. Small wonder then we have had so many misunderstandings over issues affecting our region: the Shanique Myrie affair, landing rights for RedJet, higher tariffs on Barbados beer in St.Lucia and the repatriation of many Guyanese from Barbados, the challenge for many in accepting the CCJ as the final court of appeal in our region and the continued bickering over LIAT and other matters,” said the former chairman of the Caribbean Media Corporation.

He also called for broadcasters and Caricom to recommit, offer support and be a part of regional broadcasting institutions.

“…Recommit to training as a key strategy in the development of professional broadcasters and journalists and to embrace social media as a critical component of our media strategies, traditional media needs to support its new media platforms with the same energy as is given to the legacy media.”

Fernandes added, “We must be driven by financially sound models but must also seek to serve the interest of the public and to offer content that is relevant to our people; we must strive for higher standards across the board and seek to retain the brightest and the best. Public service broadcasting and operating profitably are not mutually exclusive models.It can be done without being at anyone ATM seeking to make withdrawals.”

His comments came a day ahead of the observance of World Press Freedom Day.

3 Responses to Veteran broadcaster challenges regional media

  1. Olutoye Walrond May 4, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Well said, Vic. I thought I was the only one completely turned off by the performance and offerings of today’s broadcasters (with exception, I should add). The sector has become a virtual free for all of those who can chant the loudest, play the “hottest” hits, attract the most attention to themselves on television and indulge in the most puerile banter with listeners.

    Our society is teeming with issues and developments begging for ventilation – the prospects of solar and other renewable forms of energy; the notion of a borderless Caribbean à la C.S.M.E; the prospects of a viable movie industry for the region; the moral and legal factors involved in a re-dedfinition of marriage; computer technology as the next frontier in economic diversification; and the list goes on.

    These and other topics could form the basis of some very interesting broadcasting, were we not so fixated with the painfully off-key renditions of karaoke zealots, small talk with call-in radio fans shouting out their friends and family or sending birthday greetings and a tiresome diet of the old and golden music of a different culture and place.

    Nature, they say, doesn’t like a vaccum, and in steps a broadcast entity that offers us relief from the above. It’s called the BBC.

  2. Gail-Selina S. Hewitt-Clarke
    Gail-Selina S. Hewitt-Clarke May 4, 2014 at 6:06 am

    This includes writing in standard English too?!

  3. Bentley Williams
    Bentley Williams May 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Agreed Kathie but you know the BBC of today is just as guilty as the others. We can’t depend on any media for good quality broadcasting anymore.


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