IN MORE ways than one it is fitting Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) has been relaunched as the country commemorates its 56th anniversary of independence.
TTT can boast of being one of the few institutions that were there from the beginning. From the moment our red, white and black flag was hoisted for the first time on August 31, 1962, the station has been synonymous with broadcasting in this country.
Its pioneering media leaders wrought a distinctive national brand and also ushered in innovations, such as the start of the broadcasting of Parliament long before there was a dedicated Parliament Channel.
TTT’s heroic staff were also on the frontlines of the 1990 terrorist attack by the Jamaat al Muslimeen. For their bravery in the face of that trauma, most have paid a tremendous price.
The station’s closure in 2005 and transformation into the Caribbean New Media Group was meant to make the State broadcaster more competitive and profitable amid a drastically changed media landscape. More than a decade later, that experiment failed to make a lasting impression, particularly amid even more radical shifts in the media environment which has seen the rise of social media as the prime competitor of television.
The challenge, then, is for TTT is to find a place amid an environment in which the media is itself undergoing a dramatic transformation. One way it plans on doing this, from all indicators, is by embracing its brand as well as acting as a vehicle for local content. Now, more than ever, we need avenues by which we can tell our stories. The new TTT is well poised to take up this challenge.
Today’s Independence Day holiday is a good time to reflect on this need to reshape our understanding of ourselves as a nation and a society. Have we removed the shackles of our colonial past in all areas of our lives? Do we continue to remain dependent and subservient to the views of others, the judgments of a remote motherland? Is our judiciary, with its highest court in London, truly a national institution? Have we rid ourselves of archaic colonial-era laws on our books, ranging from provisions banning sex toys to those stripping citizens of the right to do basic human things like love?
That said, we can no longer complacently deploy rhetoric against colonialism and neo-colonialism without taking stock of our own management of our collective destiny. Trinidad and Tobago at 56 years must be ready to take a hard look at itself. The vital issues now facing us include the state of the economy, crime, human rights and the environment. TTT can be one medium through which this much-needed reflection happens.