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Sunday 26 May 2019
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Agard: ttt a tough balancing act

IT is a tough balancing act to re-launch ttt as a state broadcaster to be the benchmark of high media standards, while operating in a competitive environment, and all against the backdrop of the new reality of online media and social media. This was the challenge facing those who are about to re-launch ttt from its current incarnation of Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG), as told to Newsday by CNMG chairman Lisa Agard on Friday.

The new ttt is due to be re–launched at month-end.

She said, “It’s going to evolve, and not do everything at once.”

While CNMG includes three radio stations, she said the biggest changes would be made to the television station itself. “We are looking at our flagship news programme, to deliver topical news in a more compelling way.” She said ttt will seek to attract viewers from other operators, although acknowledging the challenges of such.

“We are looking to concentrate a lot of our efforts, energy and resources on developing local content. That will go along an evolutionary path.”

Admitting local viewers can access a lot of foreign content on cable television, she nonetheless remarked, “But people like to see themselves on television, but overseas content can’t offer this.

“So there is definitely a place and a niche for local content.”

Agard said featuring locals on television would create a platform for producers of local content and so help develop that local industry. Local content will also attract advertisers, she added.

She thought the new ttt could draw upon the “Golden Age” of ttt of yesteryear that featured hosts such as Hazel Ward-Redman and Uncle Ian Ali, yet be even better as ttt no longer had monopoly status as a broadcaster. “Now you have to produce compelling content because people can switch channels so easily.”

Further, she said many people did not access television channels even via cable TV but streamed their own content over the internet.

“So, how do we compete meaningfully in the digital space?” she mulled. “We can’t produce the traditional media. Our whole world has changed, and how we consume data and content has changed remarkably.”

Asked if ttt could draw from the example of the success of Britain’s Got Talent, Agard replied, “Absolutely! We have a lot of talent in TT. You’d not believe how many children have studied classical instruments, yet have no platform to showcase their talent.” She said reality TV could have a place on ttt, although not all such foreign shows could be directly transported to TT.

Agard said ttt must find a way to commercialise its operations, and benchmark itself against rival operators which have to be profitable. “We should be moving along the continuum to generate revenues to cover our costs.”

She said at the same time ttt has a constitutional role to play in holding public officials to account. “We have many commercial realities, but with the sacred responsibility of speaking truth to power and setting standards. You do this in such a way that you uplift the society.

“It is a tough balancing act, but it is doable.”

Presumably speaking of CNMG/ttt, Agard said good people exist who need to be encouraged and motivated, although some square pegs in round holes also exist. “We need to get all the people on the same page to be wanting to move it all forward. Generally people are positive. “I want us to look different and be different. I’d appreciate any feedback.”

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