Sunday, October 31, 2010

Should more local content be aired on our local television stations?

By H. Murray

Have you ever turned on your television set onto one of the local stations to watch the news and left it on past an hour only to wonder if you were still on the same channel, as the programming was from one of those American networks?
There are about 13 television stations in Trinidad and Tobago, most of which are on Cable, with only about four that operate nationally.
There are scores of international cable channels, predominantly American, yet still some of the local stations still find it necessary to include a large amount of foreign content in their programming.
Imagine you can find shows like USA’s Burn Notice, Lifetime’s Army Wives, NCIS, CSI, Without a Trace, Ellen DeGeneres, Desperate Housewives  as well as various sitcoms throughout the night and day on these local stations. Several of these shows follow closely behind the new episodes from the American Networks and one can imagine the cost for such popular, foreign shows.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that some of the popular shows or movies cannot form part of the local programming, but at a minimal, to perhaps accommodate people who live in rural areas and do not have access to Cable.
Some may say that there isn’t a lot of local content to broadcast, but I beg to differ. There are a couple  of stations that broadcast all local or even Caribbean content.  Local does not have to be restricted to Trinidad and Tobago, we are part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and we share some of their culture.
Yet how many local or Caribbean movies, films, documentaries or even sitcoms do we see on our local stations? And there are numerous materials. You only hear about or see them during the annual Film Festivals we host here. Someone very close to me is in his last year of a BA in Film at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus. After his class graduates, what’s next? Students have graduated before them and have made films and documentaries. Has anyone of you seen any?
The Fourth Estate (the media) is supposed to be the voice of the people, not only when they are in trouble but also when they are trying to get their messages, in this case creations, across. I think it’s time they approach the Film students at UWI and try to give them a platform where they can create and have their films/documentaries aired.
Don’t think for one second that the Media Companies may not be aware of the Film Degree at UWI, because some of their employees are enrolled in the programme.
As it relates to Caribbean films, if you do some checking you would see that the directors of some of these films are Trinbagonians. We need to give them the encouragement to produce local/Caribbean content or they will simply migrate to where their skills are needed and appreciated.  To the local stations that do air predominately local content, hats off to you, but to the others I think it’s time you guys get on the local bandwagon. 

'Trini to d Bone' returns

So what do you think, should more local content be aired on T&T television stations?


Kern Tyson said...

I agree in total with the article. I think that Local and Caribbean content should be aired on our local stations because we do in fact produce quality programming here.

cleo said...

As someone who as lobbied for and produced local television programmes that has been aired on two television say the least it was a struggle from almost every corner but mainly from the advertising/corporte support point of view because it is obivious who wags the tail in this business. show me the advertisier who supports and I would show you the media house who who sanctions it!!. Is is true that it is cheaper to import the foreign programming ?... or easier to insult the local producers...?. whos's pushing the head that local just inst good enough?... or who not just pushing the lcoal period..? I am convinced that the creative dynanism of the local producers who are enthusiastic are simply being stiffled either by the personal back biting... attitudes.. of ingrattitude for the efforts on those are have the skills or the those who control the the system simply because they can... The question as a nation is our heart in the right place?...

Nicole L said...

Interesting yes, indeed food for thought. The writer made some relevant points re; "local" prog. does not mean Trinidad and tobago
but rather our Carribbean brothers and sisters who are rich in history and culture. and expression.I guess we feel comfortable or more at home with predominantly more foreign type shows. Identity problem yuh think...
Whatever it is, I could do with some "Tobago weding" "The Tobago gig""Goat race" and all those other interesting stuff indigeneous to we, me, you.
Come on people time to say "everybody loves Trinidad and Tobago as opposed to "Everybody loves Raymond"

Margaret said...

Absolutely there is a need for more local content.. However it is all about supply and demand, and the perception that foreign is better.

The bottom line - it's all about ratings and competition in the industry.

BloggerzinE said...

Thank you Kern, Cleo, Nicole and Margaret for your comments. We do produce quality content locally and it's really a struggle for local film-makers having to wait an entire year to have their masterpieces showcased at the annual film festival. As mentioned it's all about the perception that foreign is better...but is it really? A foreign culture being forced on us and the neglect of "we thing",an identity problem? You tell us.

pettie said...

I agree, however, we have seen local programmes that have crashed and burnt on local stations, we have seen local stations having to make significant cutbacks, just to continue trying to keep local content on the air. Gayelle/WINTV
Maybe its not so much the programme but the quality, everything local looks like reality TV, for many people watching television is a time to escape into a fantasy, someone- else's reality. I know that we have many talents people involved in the film industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Maybe they can look at producing sitcom programmes instead of going the movie way first. I mean who did not enjoy Westwood Park and the ever famous No-Boundaries.
Of course I have to agree with Cleo. One must also look at who "wags the tail in this business..."
It is all about the money for many media houses and this is not a local or regional problem but world wide, in many "developing nations"
Our local "Ent" is fighting the good fight, but how many of us are fighting along with them.

Anonymous said...

Now I many sound judgmental or opposing to what is being said,,,but I do hear what you all are saying. I am the host of a Local Program on Gayelle, however the problem was not getting the media house to show the program the problem WAS ACQUIRING SPONSORS. In this type of business, the particular show (sometimes) has to pull-in it's own sponsors. If we do not get sponsors we cannot be paid and buy necessary equipments essential to produce the program. Now I can go on and on about my trials and tribulations, but sometimes the onus is NOT on the media it's a corporate/public/private issue.

Anonymous said...

It is entirely a problem that lies with the corporate community. Corporate Trinidad and Tobago don't care for anything local or Caribbean, generally and continue to perpetuate this attitude of 'foreign is better' through generations of business people.

BloggerzinE said...

Both Anonymous comments are correct, the corporate community is also not too interested in supporting our local content. But, I believe if the local media put up a united front to support local content...go on a campaign so to speak...I think the message will get across to the sponsors. And they will have no choice. Advertisers need the media as much as the media need advertisers.

Sean King said...

There are so many degrees, certificates and educational programs available for students which push the head of "produce local" yet we have so many local producers who make good films that when they approach the media houses to sell them, they are bushwhacked in to either selling them for next to nothing or get comments like," Yes we will show it but you have to sell 60% of ads for it so that you can get it on the preferred time.So wait a minute... I scratched and sweated to make a film which took me years to make and now I have to go and meet with would be advertisers who may want to put their ads during the showing of my film for a fee which the TV Station collects? Are these TV Media Houses mad?

This is the only country that I know of where TV Stations do not buy local shows but instead we have to purchase time from them in order to get our products out. One day TV will be defunct and the internet will see to this.This is coming very soon...

So I agree. All our Film Makers can stand up to any foreign film with one good difference," We are part of Caricom with many stories to tell and as talented people we need the support of all Media Houses to get these stories told and seen otherwise we will find another means of getting it out there and it would be to the loss of the Trinidad and Tobago public. Local Films that make it out of Trinidad and Tobago hardly return for showing in their country of origin since it is foreseen by local Cinemas as "Non-Profit making ventures.

Sean King said...

Don't you think it is about time that we tell OUR stories ourselves instead of the foreign crap we are forced to watch and being told that this is good content and what we should aspire to? Rubbish!! The Colonial days are finished.

Come on people of local content we have to fight for what we want and the local media houses must support our cause other wise all the Uwi degrees in Film and Utt Courses in Animation are a farce if after completion there is no where to go except to take up a post in these same media houses which have turned their backs on us aspiring artists.

Yet when we few of us Film Makers are successful in Foreign these same media houses ride our backs as if they gave us any encouragement or helped us in any way. But then again we allow this to happen, don't we? We may not be a Frank Capra or Sylvesta Stallone but we are making films; For Example, The Blood and the Bois) that tell our stories from our hearts and instill emotions and brings the audience to their knees like all the other films we see nowadays.

Sean King said...


Places like Movietowne and Cinema8 are own local cinemas and yet there is not one screen which is dedicated to local films, Not One! Yet we all go around saying buy local, and all this other crap. For what? The government has given all these TV Media houses licenses to transmit programming and must dedicate some of the key time slots to Government programming as well or they would lose these licenses.

The government has developed a Film Company to help aspiring local Film makers to produce films but then where do we show them? The Govt should make a similar proposal to these local cinemas that at least one screen in their establishments should be dedicated to the screening of all local content which have been passed by the censors board and shown to the public. The local corporations and government can come together and subsidize the cost of showing these films so that finally the Trinidad and Tobago Film Industry can have a platform to show their Films.

BloggerzinE said...

Judging from your 'trilogy' of comments Sean, we can see that you are one of many who have tried unsuccessfully to get local content on a local television station. The Media are interested in ratings and profit and are not too interested in finding and persuading the advertisers to back local content. We believe that local filmmakers should be supported and the media should assist in a marginal way.

Anonymous said...

Definitely I totally agree that we should air more local content, but . . . how much content is there to be aired? We must also attract more persons to develop their talents locally so that we'll have more to choose from. The imitation model we have at present of taking most American activities and ideals for our own MUST STOP!
Great video

BloggerzinE said...

Actually, Anonymous, you will be surprised to know how much movies/documentaries/films are produced here but we never get to see them on our local stations. Also if encouragement is given by the local media several filmmakers will make it their business to produce endless good quality programming. Like you said we need to develop our quality and refrain from using American plots and themes in our content and use our own...we do have a rich culture. About the video, we had to bring back 'Trini to de bone' he is really funny.

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