It’s TTT time again

Today, the new re-branded state television network, TTT Limited was launched. The Prime Minister gave remarks as did the chairperson Lisa Agard, and the line Minister, Stuart Young, MP.

With the recent revelations of losses and debt incurred in Petrotrin, and the subsequent announcement of the closure of the refinery, it is important to note that government action seems to be founded on a couple things; maintain an industry to maintain jobs despite all the dire warnings otherwise. See Caroni Ltd. purchase from Tate & Lyle in the early 1970s, and the purchase of the refinery in Point-a-Pierre from Texaco. The New York Times article from 1985 reported the predicament of the government, and its response:

With world oil prices down and many refineries closing, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago has reluctantly bought the sprawling Texaco Inc. refinery on the east coast of Trinidad. The Government agreed to buy the money-losing refinery, officials say, mainly to save more than 3,000 jobs and avoid expensive imports of oil products. ‘We didn’t want to take over Texaco,’ said Ronald Jay Williams, Trindad and Tobago’s Minister of State Enterprises in a recent interview in Trinidad. ‘They told us they were leaving. We had no choice.’

“We had no choice,” and now 100 years of an oil refining industry is closed, not because refining oil isn’t a thing anymore, but because we could not get it right even when we bought into it. From Petrotrin’s website: “In 2017, state-owned oil and gas company of Trinidad and Tobago, Petrotrin commemorates one hundred years of refining operations at Pointe-a-Pierre… Throughout its 24 years’ existence, Petrotrin has proudly referred to its predecessor history, which can be traced to the early years of production in this country more than one hundred years ago.” In the quarter century running this thing, we got it so wrong that losses and debt were too much to maintain.

All this brings me to today’s launch of TTT Limited, and the rebranding of CNMG. In August of 2017, Maxie Cuffy, line minister at the time, announced the transition from CNMG to TTT. I had my doubts then, as I do now. Not because the promise of a dedicated platform for local content producers in audio-visual is unworthy of accolade, but because in the 360 days between the announcement and the launch today, the enabling environment, a major role of government, has not changed.

I wrote then, “The harsh reality of a still in-draft Broadcast Code to be promulgated and a Broadcast Policy from 2004 that has not been updated via several governments that speaks directly against content quotas leave the planned press conference for today by Maxie Cuffie as a line in the sand for whether creative stakeholders have the enabling environment that governments always state they are creating or just another hollow announcement to satisfy ministerial job descriptions.

You can track my postings on the transition over three days, 24-26 August 2017, below:

It’s more than a logo, it’s a history of failure with a business model that does not emphasize excellence. It is a business model of convenience that operates in a milieu of small money hustling. With the “we had no choice” being the only option to open and close an enterprise, while economic harshness, market viability and limited to no prior management success stories are put aside, we will track the movement of the government’s continued efforts at getting into the media industry. If we are to believe that accuracy of news is a good reason, I await what excuse will be used to explain any shut down if dollar losses number in the seven or eight figures down the line.

© 2018, Nigel A. Campbell. All Rights Reserved.

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