BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Montserrat was represented this week at the Symposium on Production and Global Distribution of Caribbean Film and Video by Director of Information & Communications, Nerissa Golden.
The event, hosted by One Caribbean Media Ltd the largest media company in the region, is part of the Best of CaribbeanTales Film Festival taking place in Barbados this week. Golden said the symposium comes at an opportune time for the Montserrat’s development as they move towards developing the islands’ media environment.
“There is a push around the region to improve the quality of the productions and to be able to make them commercially viable on an international scale. I feel this is important for us at this stage as we work towards the Montserrat Media Corporation, because we want to develop a company that will have commercial impact well beyond our shores.”
The director also met this week with representatives from One Caribbean Media, Starcoms Networks, the Caribbean Media Corporation and other regional television producers to look at ways of collaborating on the production of more content and how locally made programming can be seen one cable and independent stations.
Representatives from the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation are also attending the event, and have expressed an interest in acquiring more content from the Caribbean region.
Terrence Farrell, Group CEO of One Caribbean Media presented a proposal to the symposium calling for the creation of a regional body to lobby governments to see the development of a sustainable audio visual sector. He also suggested that organizations like the newly former Caribbean Audio Visual Network (CAN) should work on legislation and push for a discussion on it to be added to the CARICOM agenda as a priority issue to move the industry forward. Farrell also wants to see a regional fund of about US$ 40 million initially to encourage independent producers to create more content for local and international distribution.
Other speakers throughout the day were Christopher Laird, founder of Gayelle TV Trinidad & Tobago who said the emergence of new technologies is changing the playing field rapidly and offers challenges for independent producers to be able to finance their work. Sheryl Deer of Time Warner Cable, New York said her company is in the market for a 24 hour cable channel that has solely Caribbean content. The US$ 90,000 per month lease for the channel was an obstacle that many saw as making this a daunting task. Other broadcasters present however, saw it as an opportunity for the creation of new partnerships which would allow several regional entities to benefit from the Caribbean market in the New York area.
“I believe that for Montserrat and the region to develop more content there needs to be a mechanism to exploit the markets in the Diaspora more effectively. Most definitely joint action must be taken, but it also lends itself to Caribbean nationals with the resources to invest in the audio visual sector and create profitable businesses,” said Golden. “On Montserrat we also have to encourage the development of more independent television producers to support the work of the Government Information Unit. We will not be able to build a new television channel without the support of our private sector to advertise but also persons willing to create talk shows, short stories, and edutainment programming.”