Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 26th 2017 Contents news A5
Saturday, August 26, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Minister of Public Administra-
tion and Communications Maxie
Cuffie yesterday said the closure
of Caribbean News Media Group
(CNMG) will create far more jobs
with the revival of T&T Television
"A lot of people are looking at this
(closure of CNMG) as losing their
jobs. I think there are other ways to
look at it. I am looking at it from the
perspective of new employment op-
portunities being created at TTT and
for content producers, cameramen
and videographers. I think there will
be much more employment created
from the transition to TTT than what
currently obtains with CNMG," Cuffie
said during a press conference at his
Port-of-Spain office, as he sought to
explain the rationale for winding up of
CNMG, which was launched in 2005.
He said with TTT's increased local
programming, jobs will be created for
local producers, actors and directors.
Enthused by the new move, Cuffie said
the transition could bring great op-
portunity to the media industry and
The announcement came one day
after Cabinet took a decision to close
CNMG's doors and revive TTT with a
mandate to focus on local program-
ming, news and public information.
The first move of the transition,
Cuffie said, would involve the Finance
Ministry appointing a new board by
next week to wind up CNMG's oper-
ations. Another board will be selected
to get TTT off the ground.
Cuffie said the investment in local
programming would cost far less than
the use of foreign programmes.
There are 112 permanent employees
and 37 freelancers at CNMG who can
all now apply for jobs at TTT, he said.
Yesterday, Cuffie met with wor-
ried staff and said he answered all
their questions about the company's
Asked when staff start receiving
their letters of notice, Cuffie said
Government would have to compute
what is owed to each employee and
pay them their benefits, which should
not take long.
He said in 2015 Cabinet had ap-
pointed a committee which was
charged with examining CNMG and
GISL's operations, and they found
that the television station was not
fulfilling its objectives and had only
a "five to six per cent market share,"
while it never achieved commercial
success nor a brand identity.
In addition to CNMG winding up,
Cuffie said radio stations Talkcity
91.1 FM and 99.1 FM, which had less
than one per cent audience ,will also
be shut down, while Radio Sweet 100
will remain in operation.
In giving a breakdown of CNMG's
operations cost, Cuffie said commer-
cial revenue had fluctuated between
$30 million in 2011 to $33 million in
"Operational cost had steadily in-
creased, while a major element had
been staff cost, which jumped from
$18.1 million in 2011 to $26.3 million
For this same period, Cuffie said ex-
penses moved from $44 to $56 million,
while subventions sky rocketed from
$10 million in 2012 to $23 million in
2015. But Government reduced its
subventions last year to $16 million.
"I think it came down to $14 million
this year. We are operating in stringent
financial times. We are struggling to
pay salaries," he said.
Asked what accounted for the in-
crease in expenses, Cuffie said be-
tween the periods 2010/2015 CNMG
became "very political and some of
the expenses you saw were through
the recruitment of people who were
political appointees and the salaries
matched that. There was activity en-
gaged in by CNMG which had nothing
to do with its core operations but had
to do with the ongoing (2015) election
In going forward, Cuffie said TTT
would be partly funded by the State,
contributors and its commercial op-
eration and its objectives will not be
to make profits. He also dismissed
rumours that CNMG's Maraval Road
property was up for sale.
Since the announcement of the
return TTT, Cuffie said he has been
getting positive feedback.
Maritime attorney Nyree
Alfonso has been invited
to appear before the Joint
Select Committee of Par-
liament on September
4, when hearings begin
into the procurement of
the Cabo Star and Ocean
Speaking to the T&T Guardi-
an yesterday about her pending
appearance, Alfonso said she
has also been asked to give the
JSC written submissions.
"I am going with no holds
barred," Alfonso said in a tele-
Alfonso had been retained
by the Port Authority of T&T
and requested to assist them
in finding a solution to what
was deemed an "emergency"
in 2013 when the Warrior
Spirit started experiencing
mechanical problems on the
The Port invited nine people
to tender and the Super Fast
Galicia won based on suitabili-
ty, age, price and other factors.
Alfonso said the Central
Tenders Board was involved in
the procurement process and
had insisted the process was
done in a fair and transparent
The Super Fast Galicia left
the sea bridge in April after the
authorities failed to sign the
18-month contract which the
then line minister Fitzgerald
Hinds had agreed to and sub-
sequently refused to enter into
a three year contract with the
On Monday after a meeting
with Tobago stakeholders,
Prime Minister Dr Keith Row-
ley said based on the advice of
senior counsel, legal action will
be pursued against the Galicia's
owners, as they still had a con-
tract with the Port.
Yesterday, Alfonso said while
she could defend the procure-
ment process for the Galicia,
she could not say the same
for the current two vessels
embroiled in the controversy.
"There is no fair and trans-
parent process in the acqui-
sition of the two vessels that
could be seen. I see nothing,"
"What process? Letting
somebody sit in the office
with board members and man-
agement and offer boats they
didn't have? This was a hand
selection of letting a particu-
lar provider come into the Port
Authority and make a proposal,
at no time were they the own-
ers of the vessels. They got two
charter party agreements be-
fore they opened the vessels,
so what procurement process
we talking about?"
Alfonso said the investi-
gations now under way into
the process used "must be
clinical and sort out the full
facts of the thing. We must
sort out the facts and have
full and frank disclosures in
the acquisition of these two
vessels. This must be done
without any political spin,
so that people can judge what
transpired. I hope one of the
five investigations will allow
the full truth to come out."
Speaking to Guardian Me-
dia on Thursday Bridgemans
Services Limited PLC vice
president Andrew Purdey
said the company, which has
its financial hub and operat-
ing headquarters in Vancouver,
Canada, purchased the Cabo
Star on June 9 and the Ocean
Flower on June 20, 2017.
He said the vessels were pur-
chased only after the Port Au-
thority agreed the two vessels
Yesterday, Alfonso said she
had been told by internation-
al brokers that the hire charter
for a vessel as old as the Ocean
Flower 2 should be US$15,000
a day, but the price agreed to
by the PATT was US$26,500.
She said the rate for the
Cabo Star should be between
US12000 to US$14,000,
but it is being leased daily at
The PATT has since can-
celled the Ocean Flower 2
contract after it failed to meet
the contractual delivery time.
But Purdey said the vessel,
which is now in Curacao, has
been repaired and all the issues
raised in the report from the
PATT Chief Engineer Brendon
Powder had been addressed. He
said Bridgemans is in this for
the long term and wanted to re-
sume negotiations with PATT
on the Ocean Flower.
Efforts to contact Port chair-
man Allison Lewis and CEO
Charmaine Lewis to ascertain
whether discussions had been
reopened with Bridgemans on
the Ocean Flower 2 were un-
successful yesterday as they
did not answer calls.
Also contacted on the issue,
Works and Transport Minis-
ter Rohan Sinanan declined
comment, referring the T&T
Guardian to the Port Author-
ity. See Page A6
SHALIZA HASSANALI AND
Emotions ran high at state-
owned Caribbean News Media
Group (CNMG) on Thursday,
after it was announced that the
company was winding down its
operations to be replaced by the
revived T&T Television (TTT).
Employees who turned up for work
at CNMG's Maraval Road, Port-of-
Spain, office yesterday felt a sense of
hopeless and helplessness over what
lies ahead for them.
Many staff members could not per-
form efficiently and effectively due to
the devastating news, several workers
told the T&T Guardian.
CNMG has 112 permanent employ-
ees and 37 freelancers who are now
out of jobs with CNMG's impending
Speaking to the T&T Guardian on
condition of anonymity, one em-
ployee said with jobs hard to come by
due to the downturn in the economy,
the majority of staff will apply for
whatever positions TTT advertises.
"A lot of us will have to find some
way to rebuild our life and move for-
ward. There is no guarantee that TTT
will employ us. One has to remember
that the media industry is contracting
and a lot of people lost their jobs in
recent times who will no doubt apply
as well. So this will make it harder for
us to remain employable. We can be
edged out of the selection process,"
the worker explained.
"Yesterday was a sad day for many
of us, especially those who worked
tirelessly to bring out the news every
night. There was a lot of disappoint-
ment and anger. We thought they were
going to restructure CNMG, not shut
it down entirely. To me, this is a guise
for retrenching workers, that is how
we see it."
The employee said Minister of Pub-
lic Administration and Communica-
tions Maxie Cuffie asked the employ-
ees to cooperate as it was in their best
interest. However, a senior newsroom
staff member was more optimistic.
"I am not in the least bit worried. I
believe when one door closes another
opens," she said.
A member of the production de-
partment said they felt betrayed for
being kept in the dark for so long.
"At least the Government could
have said something a long time ago.
Just so, just so, we were told about
CNMG shutting down. How is this
fair to us? People have families to
support, children to send to school
and mortgages to pay. Everyone has
been thrown into a tailspin," the said.
The employee said they were wait-
ing to hear what they will be offered
in terms of benefits.
Minister of Public Administration and
Communications Maxie Cuffie during
yesterday's press conference at the
National Library in Port-of-Spain.
PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR
TTT to be public service broadcaster --- Cuffie
Workers angry as future uncertain
Alfonso set to
ferry fiasco JSC More jobs will be created
Links Archive August 25th 2017 August 27th 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page