Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 1st 2015 Contents A27
Tuesday, December 1, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
THE ASSOCIATION OF
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
ATTENTION ALL MEMBERS
DATE: Saturday 5th December, 2015
TIME: 9.30 a.m
VENUE: The Secretariat,
#9 Eagles Drive, Connector Rd.
The full impact of the buyout of
CWC by Liberty Global
(http://ow.ly/VeyL7) is still to be prop-
erly evaluated, far less assessed, but
that s no reason why I can t infuriate
President Carmona with some
rumshop conjecture about what it s
all going to mean.
Pull up a barstool.
Will it be allowed?
It s hard to think of a reason it
wouldn t be or even why the question
should arise. The discussion about for-
eign ownership of our communications
resources consumed most of the last
two years and ended with the majority
players in the market being Irish and
All that s really changed on that front
is that we ve traded crumpets for burgers
and moved headquarters from Lombard
Road in London to Liberty Boulevard
What happens next?
Consolidation. That was already
underway with the CWC/Columbus
merging of assets and personnel. With
Liberty in the mix, expect more shed-
Normally, this wouldn t bother me
at all, but at least two high profile depar-
tures may signal troubling trends.
After the merger, Chris Dehring left
CWC (http://ow.ly/VeyVo) and Rhea
Yaw Ching moved on from Columbus
Dehring is a respected Jamaican
entrepreneur with a deep knowledge of
the region and Yaw Ching championed
local content on Flow s feeds, putting
money into GayelleTV and making T&T
films available on pay-per-view.
Both were brown nationals of the
Caribbean archipelago whose specific
and quite relevant talents were quietly
lost to the merged entity.
How did this merger happen?
CWC was always upfront about its
plans to bulk up and dominate the
First, they grabbed the best of what
was available in the region then they
went courting (or did so simultaneously,
business is notoriously promiscuous)
in international markets.
How will customers benefit?
Costs won t go down. That model
doesn t exist in the telecommunications
sector. But, there is a real possibility
that Caribbean broadband and cable
television subscribers will actually get
more for what they re currently pay-
For almost a decade, the model for
getting foreign programming has been
to buy a feed from an affiliate television
station and show what they re showing.
This is roughly the same as buying a
maxi-taxi on the basis of the passengers
it picks up.
Late last year, content producers
ordered everyone off the bus, telling
affiliate stations, which pay for the con-
tent they broadcast to stop sub-licensing
content they didn t create.
That led to this year s fuss over lost
cable channels and the grim realisation
that the Caribbean is simply too small
for major television channels and cable
producers to bother working out a prop-
er licensing model.
But Liberty Global is big, with the
type of clout that CWC craved and the
brassy John Malone looks like exactly
the kind of person who might drive
through deals with those diffident pro-
ducers as part of his larger conversations
This is the guy who owned half of
DirecTV in 2009 and recently bought
Sirius XM. When he talks, people tend
So, big win for action movie fans.
But Malone is unlikely to give a single
hoot about little bubbles of creative
potential like the local film and television
industry, because, well, big and little.
What happens to local broadcasters?
The wake-up call for local TV broad-
casters has been ringing for some time
now, this will only make it louder. The
golden era for local content on television
arose out of necessity. Buying foreign
programming was a clumsy, costly
process even in the era of U-Matic tapes.
Building a small set and decking it
out with chairs and an audience made
sense as a way to feed the remorseless
appetite of the daily broadcast sched-
ule.If Liberty s clout brings bargaining
parity to Flow and there s a trickle down
effect to smaller competitors, most local
broadcasters will have the nightly news
and morning show and that s it.
After everyone can access their cable
TV on their phones and tablets, local
broadcast channels will begin to look
irrelevant, not to mention unattractive.
Every other broadcast station, even
affiliates in the US, which are basically
franchises of either CBS, NBC or ABC,
realised long ago that they needed to
create regionally relevant programming
that they could upsell to other markets.
Few have been successful at placing
content in the wider marketplace, but
that doesn t stop them from trying. I m
not sure T&T would know where to
Taking liberties Brazilians who post racist
abuse online may see their words
blown up and pasted onto bill-
boards near their houses.
The campaign is called Virtual
racism, real consequences and it s
backed by Criola, a civil rights
organisation run by Afro-Brazilian
women. The group collects com-
ments from Facebook or Twitter
and uses geolocation tools to find
out where the people who have
posted them live. They then buy
billboard space nearby and post
the comments in huge letters,
although names and photos are
Criola s founder Jurema Wer-
neck says the campaign is intended
to encourage people to speak out
and report racism. "Those people,
who post abuse online, think they
can sit in the comfort of their
homes and do whatever they want
on the internet. We don t let that
happen. They can t hide from us,
we will find them," Werneck told
BBC Trending. There are laws
against racial abuse in Brazil, but
Werneck thinks the authorities
haven t done enough to enforce
them, and that many people are
afraid to speak out against racist
Brazilians who identify as black
(sometimes called Afro-Brazilian)
make up 7.6 per cent of the pop-
ulation according to the country s
2010 census. Mixed-race or
"pardo" Brazilians, who may have
a degree of black ancestry, make
up a further 43 per cent.
The campaign was sparked by
an incident where a popular black
weather presenter became the tar-
get of crude racist remarks. The
insults were hurled at Maria Julia
Coutinho after her photo was
posted on the Facebook page of
Nacional Journal, a prime-time
Ironically, the photo was posted
on July 3, which in Brazil is a
national day against racial dis-
crimination and the racially
charged comments were quickly
overwhelmed by thousands of
messages expressing support for
Coutinho. "I just printed of all the
comments on this post and I will
report them to the appropriate
authorities. Racism is a crime,"
said one Facebook user.
The billboard campaign has
been running since the summer,
and Werneck says she has received
mostly positive reactions, including
many from Brazilians who aren t
black. The campaign has also gen-
erated some debate on the social
networks it s highlighting. "I
thought this was fair and just,
shining a light in the face of
racists," commented one Facebook
user. Another said: "Be careful
how you comment you might be
the next one to have your words
on a billboard." Others, however,
were less impressed. "Everyone
gets abuse on the Internet, not
just black people," said one com-
menter on a newspaper website.
"If you don t want to be offended,
don t go on the Internet." (BBC)
Brazil puts online racist trolls on blast
John Malone, philanthropist, after
donating US$42.5 million to Colorado
State University for regenerative
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