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February 21 2014

February 08 2014

Station's Rights to Sochi Games Leaves Caribbean Viewers in the Dark

Six Caribbean teams are competing in this year's winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia: Bermudathe Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Naturally, sports fans throughout the region want to watch – but there's a problem. SportsMax, a premium subscription-based television station, has been awarded exclusive rights to the 2014 Sochi games in the Caribbean. “Inside The Games” reported on the details:

The deal, announced between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and  International Media Content Ltd (IMC), the parent company of SportsMax, is applicable for 21 nations and territories ranging from Anguilla to Trinidad and Tobago.

It consists of exclusive English language broadcast rights on all media platforms, with live coverage to be provided on both SportsMax and SportsMax2 for the duration of the Games when they get underway in Sochi.

Columbus Communications, owners of the Flow cable network which operates in several Caribbean territories, took to its social media outlets to address the issue:

Flow Fans, please be advised that SportsMax holds the exclusive broadcast rights to the '2014 Winter Olympics’ in the Caribbean for the period February 7th to 23rd 2014. Olympic programming will be broadcast mainly on Sportsmax 1 with some content on Sportsmax 2. Consequently, we are legally required to blackout the coverage of the games on all channels including but not limited to NBC & CBC who will be carrying portions of the SOCHI games. During the blackout periods the affected channels will carry a notice to our customers advising of the blackout requirement and directing you to SportsMax. 

We understand the inconvenience that this issue poses and are aware and acknowledge that blocked content is disruptive for our viewers, however we MUST comply. Once the broadcast rights to air a program is (sic) purchased we are obligated to block out that program (when requested) as both a legal and regulatory (TATT) obligation. Failing to comply could lead to legal actions against Columbus Communications Trinidad Limited. This arrangement is not unique to Trinidad, all video service providers worldwide will be required to take similar action based on the Network which has purchased the rights in that country. 

Irate Jamaicans posted on Flow Jamaica's Facebook page about having to pay to watch their team parading in the opening ceremony and competing in the games. Diego Armando Thomas had this to say

So because i don't have the #SportsMax package on #Flow I am not allowed to watch the #Olympics? This is BULL. You block the channels am paying for? Really!!!

Another viewer, David Valentine, urged Jamaicans to take action by writing to the Jamaican Broadcast Commission:

This is a sheg up situation, taking advantage of the people who no have no options. The blasted Olympics should not be held ransom, by forcing people to pay for some purely subscriber based channel. Imagine if Showtime did have the exclusive rights to the Olympics? Something wrong with this blow wow picture man. Them really corrupted. PEOPLE WRITE TO THE BROADCAST COMMISION!!

Others expressed their disgust on Twitter:

One viewer who subscribed to the SportsMax service was dissatisfied with the coverage of the opening ceremony:

Competitor cable provider Lime has been offering viewers in some of the countries in which it operates, a free trial of SportsMax for the duration of the games:

The issue of broadcast rights for local television stations versus those of the cable company was discussed in this post:

Television programmes generate advertising revenue for broadcasters such as TV6 and CNC3. While customers pay cable providers for premium channels, it should be noted that  the programmes which occupy the schedules on these channels are governed by separate contracts.

While SportsMax is indigenous to the region, it is a pay-per-view service, and some netizens have complained about the failure of free-to-air broadcasters to obtain rights to the games. Yvon Tripper commented on an article in the Bermuda Royal Gazette:

IOC simply gives rights to the highest bidder. Nothing is stopping a Bermuda-based broadcaster from asking the IOC for Bermuda-only rights, and then just using the American and Canadian feeds. If no one in Bermuda pays for broadcast rights for the island's Olympic coverage rights, then there's no point in complaining when someone else does. The IOC would be happy to exclude Bermuda from the Caribbean region if it mean that they got more money — it's all about the Redbirds, baby.

While Trinidad and Tobago is not competing in the games, none of the terrestrial broadcasters have purchased rights to the games, forcing interested viewers to subscribe to SportsMax for live coverage. Annoyed cable subscribers vented their feelings on Twitter:

The Sochi Games run until February 23, 2014.

February 14 2013

Caribbean: Valentine's Day is for Bloggers

Think you know what love is all about? A few regional bloggers use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to figure it out…

From Jamaica, Nadine Tomlinson quotes a poem by Rumi to set the tone for the day, while Havana Times republished a post from the blog's inaugural year, which provided a glimpse into how February 14th is celebrated in Cuba.

Cuban diaspora blog Babalu, on the other hand, put a twist on the celebrations by offering some dictator love and criticizing the way in which New Zealanders are “celebrat[ing] the lovely bohemian ambience of the Castro Kingdom”.

Other posts from the regional diaspora included chookooloonks’ tips for a Valentine's Day craft activity “for kids with moms who are *completely* uncrafty”, while back in chookooloonks’ homeland, Trinidad and Tobago, Wuzdescene posted an image of a press advertisement that he thinks is perfect for Valentine's Day. The text reads:

Tabanca SALE!
Why buy chocolates for a person that will leave you when you can buy a computer that will stay with you?

(Tabanca, according to “Cote ci Cote la“, the Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary, is local parlance for “the forlorn feeling that one gets when a love affair is over”.)

Over in the U.S. Virgin Islands, News of St. John blogs about the eleventh annual celebration of “Celebration of Love”:

Last year, 72 couples repeated their vows in the beach ceremony organized by non-denominational minister Anne Marie Porter.

There is a practical post from the Bahamas’ Mainstream, who offers advice for men to impress the ladies “even if you're broke and clueless”, and another from Barbados’ Notes From A Small Rock, who writes about “the pillars of love and marriage” – at least according to a Barbadian pastor:

The first pillar is money. Yes money. You need money. I need money. Alicia, you must accept that Keshorn is in charge of the way the money going be handled. You must trust in he wisdom…accept that or mark my words, this marriage go be over before you could say macaroni pie.

The great temple of marriage has a second pillar and that is communication. I does meet a set of young people getting married and they don’t know how to talk to one another. They busy emailing and could spend the whole day on Facebook or texting.

The third pillar holding up the roof of the temple of marriage is sex. The adult male and adult female must have a good and regular sex life. By now you should have located her G spot. If you ain’t done your homework I promise you my friend: someone going do it for you.

The fourth pillar that you Alicia, and you Keshorn, must pay attention to is the one and only Lord God All Mighty.

Happy Valentine's Day!

August 24 2012

Caribbean: Escape from Tropical Storm Isaac

Caribbean netizens have their eye on Tropical Storm Isaac, the ninth such weather system for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season. (Its predecessor, Tropical Storm Helene, brought torrential rainfall to Trinidad and Tobago, which resulted in extensive flooding, landslips and some fatalities.) Isaac has been steadily moving up the Leeward Islands, and storm warnings and watches have been issued for Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

From Cuba, Havana Times has been charting the storm's path. Yesterday, the blog posted that Isaac was moving “towards a predicted landing in Haiti or the Dominican Republic by late Friday or Saturday”:

A hurricane warning is in effect for all of Haiti and portions of the DR, while a tropical storm alert is in effect for all of Puerto Rico.

Meanwhile, the Cuban Weather Service (INSMET) is advising caution, stating the storm could present a threat to Cuba.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, News of St. John reported that people were being asked to prepare “for tropical storm conditions beginning Wednesday with torrential downpours, gusty thunderstorms and building seas”, although the storm was predicted to pass south-west of the island. In nearby St. Thomas, bloggers were also “battening down the hatches”. Yesterday, the St. Thomas-based blogger, Captain Jay, reported “hot and sticky” weather…

with some heavy rain and winds gusting into the thirty plus mile per hour range. It doesn't look like much damage from here. This one has left us alone.

Then he quipped:

I think God has other plans for Isaac, thinking he might drop a message on the Republican National Convention in Tampa Bay next week. Just saying.

News of St. John, in an update earlier today, also had little damage to report, but linked to video of the storm's “winds - er, strong breezes”, here, here and here. There was also a video of the storm's effects in Guadeloupe, posted here.

Understandably, there is concern for the effects the storm may have on Haiti, as much of its population in Port-au-Prince is still living in tent cities after the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake. The country has weathered storms before, of course, but the Livesay Haiti Weblog explained it this way:

Nobody needs this, especially not the left-half of Hispaniola.
Hoping and praying it shoots off into the Caribbean and leaves the islands alone.

Haiti Chery thought that the Haitian government was not doing as much as it could given the circumstances:

For Haiti and the Dominican Republic’s southern coast, a hurricane warning is in effect. Such a warning means that both countries should be urgently preparing to protect life and property.

In Haiti, the storm is expected to make a direct hit on the area including Jacmel, the Ile de la Gonave, and the populous capital city of Port-au-Prince where about half a million people still live under tents. So far, the National Center for Meteorology (CNM, Centre National de Météorologie)…and the government have merely issued color-coded alerts and warnings to avoid rivers and windows.

The heavy precipitation might cause flash floods and mud slides. On the coasts, there will be dangerous waves, and storm surges could raise the waters 3 to 5 feet above the normal tide levels.

Already there is talk of a resurgence of cholera with this coming storm; but contaminated drinking water causes cholera, not hurricanes. It behooves the Haitian health officials to take full responsibility for guaranteeing that all emergency bottled water distributed during the storm is verified as being safe to drink.

The post went on to give regular weather reports. In an updated blog entry today, Dady Chery said, tongue firmly in cheek:

Haitian government officials finally did something about Tropical Storm Isaac. They gathered 32 boats and 1250 temporary shelters as peace offerings to the storm gods. Then they gave a press conference at which they demanded that all those in charge of safety — whoever they might be — do their jobs, whatever these might be… like, help Haitians through ravines, for instance.

At the least, this keeps people too busy to ask the government officials to do their jobs.

The storm gods listened to all that the Haitians had to say. Then they went and listened as closely to ABC News, which prayed dearly for the winds and rain to make a mess of the Republican National Convention in Tampa. Feeling unwanted in Haiti but welcome in Florida, the gods held a congress and made their decision. They would sail their 32 boats to Tampa.

And this is how Isaac disappeared from the Caribbean Sea to reemerge as a category 3 hurricane directly over the GOP National Convention. In the U.S., it was all news, all weather, all the time. In Haiti, it was a beautiful, drizzly, carnival night! A miracle.

July 26 2012

Ambush Marketers at the Olympics? Be Warned!

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) has taken stringent measures to try to ensure no ‘ambush marketing’ tactics are used during the London 2012 Olympics. A common feature at modern major sporting events, ambush marketers try to sneak in promotions of their brands and companies in front of the crowd and, most importantly, the TV cameras. Sports law bloggers and marketers posted their opinions on ambush marketing and the London Olympics which are discussed below.

Duane Morris of Sports Law Blog says:

For event planners and corporate entities investing as sponsors of sporting events, protection of this contracted association is one of the top intellectual property issues. The United Kingdom is taking legislative steps to bar ambush marketing.  The key focus for all in this space is being clear on the rights contracted including the obligations to proactively work against ambushers. In ambush marketing there are multiple ‘victims’. First the party that paid for the official relationship with the sporting event…

He goes on to say:

London 2012 is the latest to have to deal with this challenging issue. We cannot predict what ambush type activities will take place, but it is a safe bet that there will be activity in this unsanctioned Olympic sport. British legislative activity is seeking to regulate many of the past bad acts. The legislation might even be interpreted to bar clothing at venues that are seeking to deliver an advertising message.

A post on the Olymponomics blog says:

Organizers go to great lengths to prevent businesses who are not official sponsors from associating themselves with the event. The first example of protective legislation in the Olympic context was passed for Sydney 2000 (drawing upon legislation from the Australian Bicentennial celebrations in 1988 that had provided safeguards in relation to the commercial use of symbols, words and phrases).

The post continues:

This highlight first of all that eye-catching ambush marketing ‘stunts’ are not necessary for firms to benefit from the illusion of perceived association with major events. It is also suggestive of a cognitive tendency of (some) individuals to view events such as the Olympics as necessarily related to global brands and commercialization, inhibiting the effectiveness of specific marketing and advertising campaigns – as the public struggle to distinguish between (different) messages in the face of an abundant supply of advertising and marketing promotions.

David Atkinson, in a post on Space blog adds:

For Olympic sponsors, we’re approaching the moment where their investments are coming under the greatest scrutiny, and where observers are looking to question their legacy, and whether they will be able to look back on London 2012 with pride.[..]

Despite all the means at the disposal of sponsors, including threats of litigation, this could become a battle that just can’t be won. Personally I’d like to see brands stepping away from the barrier of protection and earning recognition on their own merits. After all success at the Games won’t be measured simply in terms of eyeballs, logo views or even Facebook ‘Likes’, but through Brand Love from sporting and Olympic fans that endorses their overall contribution to the event.

In a guest post for The Sports Bloc Stephen Lownsbrough says:

Welcome to the world of ambush marketing, otherwise known as guerilla marketing, a highly controversial but undeniably smart tactic that has been utilized by small traders and corporate giants alike in order to accrue big rewards at minimal cost from major sporting events [..]

The London 2012 Games are expected to draw millions of visitors and a global television audience in the billions. As such the rewards of official sponsorship could be immense, and companies have paid up to £ 80m to become official sponsors or partners of the Games. Equally, the forthcoming Games, like any other sporting event of this magnitude should – as least in theory – provide ample opportunity for guerilla marketing to boost the financial fortunes of savvy businesses taking advantage of the related publicity.

He concludes:

So in years to come who will remember that Adidas were the official sportswear partners, indeed, does anyone remember who they were in Beijing, Sydney or even Barcelona?[..] but for those fortunate to win a medal at London 2012 and the millions around the world watching or attending the Games will have the lasting image of the medals, what they ironically represented, remembering the goddess of strength, speed and victory – Nike who can sit back with a wry smile and say, ‘Image is Everything’!

SportsAgentBlog raises the concerns of the US Olympic team in the post as follows:

The Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics will take place this Friday, July 27, 2012 in London. While athletes are making their final mental and physical preparations in their eventual quest for gold, they and their representatives are also considering how they can capture marketing and brand growth opportunities throughout the Games. Unfortunately for those athletes and their reps, the US Olympic Committee (USOC) and in the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will prohibit Olympians from marketing themselves during the course of the London events. Unless, of course the athletes are marketing official Olympic sponsors.

The post continues:

The IOC prohibition is referred to as Rule 40, and as imagined, is less than popular among almost everyone other than official Olympic sponsors. The intention of the Rule is to attempt to alleviate sponsor concerns of ambush marketing, destroying the full value that official sponsors hope to gain from paying the large price for that status. Those sponsors, including Coca-Cola, Visa and McDonald’s pay millions of dollars to become a part of The Olympic Partner (TOP) Programme.

Anke’s Back-up Blog also satirises the 2012 Olympics mascots in an image on its website, saying depicting them is probably illegal.

In conclusion, it seems that though the IOC and LOCOG will be seeking to secure the interests of the official sponsors, there are concerns from participating athletes and national teams who are likely to miss out on the potential sponsorships. It also remains to be seen if there will be effective policing of ambush marketers who might plague the Games and related events.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

This post was sub-edited by Jane Ellis.

January 16 2012

Caribbean: Thank You, Dr. King

Today, the United States marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day - a floating holiday which celebrates the birthday of the late civil right leader. The occasion resonates with Caribbean bloggers, both at home and throughout the diaspora and a few of them share their thoughts…

Jamaican litblogger Geoffrey Philp, who lives in Miami, Florida, acknowledges the impact that Dr. King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” has had on his life, noting that his latest book “include[s] a few of the lessons that [he] had learned from reading and teaching Dr. King's letter to [his] undergraduate students at Miami Dade College”. He calls Dr. King's letter “one of the great moral texts of the twentieth century, [which] should be required reading in the training of young minds.”

Cuban diaspora blogger Michael Pancier put his tribute into “a little photo and video montage”, made from images he took during a visit to The King Center in Atlanta, Georgia. His compatriot, Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter, also acknowledges the importance of the day:

The critiques against Martin Luther King Jr. and nonviolence are of importance today because around the world in Egypt, Tunisia, Burma, Cuba and elsewhere movements have emerged that are inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.'s example of nonviolent struggle. In the United States elements within the Occupy Wall Street movement have embraced Martin Luther King Jr. and are organizing acts of remembrance on his birthday.

In the U.S. Virgin Islands, Live De Life uploads a video of Will Kimbrough performing the “Ballad of Martin Luther King”, saying:

Figured this was appropriate for the holiday.

Finally, Afrobella posts a heartfelt “thank you” to Dr. King…”for everything”:

Dr. King was assassinated 44 years ago, and in the sands of time it is easy to forget that Dr. King was a real person. A man with a beautiful wife and family. A man who became the public face of a movement. A man who tirelessly worked, marched, got arrested, spoke eloquently on the topics of peace, love, and justice — and ultimately gave his life to the cause of racial equality.

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Without you, who knows where we would be today.

January 03 2012

U.S.V.I.: Water Woes Cause Anger

“It’s gotten graphic there – waste that’s piling up in toilets that cannot be flushed; people crawling around in cisterns trying to retrieve a bucket of water to meet a small part of their needs. And this is 2012″: No See Um blogs about the untenable water rationing situation in St. Thomas.

November 10 2011

U.S.Virgin Islands: High Electricity Rates

News of St. John reports that “the high cost of electricity on [the island] generated a protest demonstration in Cruz Bay.”

September 28 2011

U.S. Virgin Islands: Shaken Up

“After several near-misses by tropical storms, the island has now escaped trouble from new earthquakes”: News of St. John has the details.

September 22 2011

U.S. Virgin Islands: Where's the Improvement?

News of St. John says it just “doesn't seem right…that budget allocations to the St. John Capital Improvement Fund never seem to be earmarked to help improve St. John's streets, parking lots, curbs, sidewalks…and this year apparently will be no different.”

September 15 2011

U.S. Virgin Islands: Here Comes the Sun Again

“That was one large storm but it didn't really live up to the forecasts thank goodness”: live de life is glad to see the back of Tropical Storm Maria, saying: “Finally the rain has stopped and we're seeing the sun again!”

September 12 2011

September 10 2011

U.S. Virgin Islands: Expecting Tropical Storm Maria

News of St. John says that the center of Tropical Storm Maria is expected to pass over the island at 2 p.m. today, adding: “The Governor has declared a State of Emergency and ordered a curfew from 7 p.m. Saturday to 5 a.m. Sunday and ordered Emergency Shelters to be opened.”

September 07 2011

U.S. Virgin Islands: Possible Storm

As the National Hurricane Center predicts that another tropical storm could pass over the Virgin Islands this weekend, News of St. John says: “It's that time of year.”

August 22 2011

U.S.V.I.: The Power of Film

“Is there any artistic medium that raises more ugly questions of representation and power than film?” In the context of this, A Nation or Nobody blogs about film and neo-colonialism.

June 20 2011

U.S.V.I.: The National Park on St. John

A Nation or Nobody blogs about a report on National Parks, Tourism, and Local Development, written 30 years ago, which he feels “should be required reading for every student in the US Virgin Islands…it [also] has the power to speak to a much larger audience on issues of development, government policy, and cultural preservation in many different contexts.”

June 17 2011

U.S.V.I.: Literary Reflections

A Nation or Nobody bonds with a fellow litblogger over “how two Trinidadian writers, Naipaul and Lovelace, have interpreted the infusion of North American cultural forms into the Caribbean”, saying: “It is my opinion that Afro-Caribbean, Indo-Caribbean, and Euro-Caribbean literatures are in fact reflections of each other, not categories that we should, or can, separate.”

June 13 2011

U.S.V.I.: Thinking About Transfer Day

“On March 31st of 2017, the territory will have been an American possession for exactly one century”: A Nation or Nobody suggests that as the U.S. Virgin Islands approaches this milestone, it must “not lose sight of the fact that we are not at the end of history and our society continues to be shaped, often by forces beyond local control.”

May 19 2011

U.S.V.I.: “The Caribbean Writer”

A Nation or Nobody is enjoying his new copy of The Caribbean Writer: “The topics…rang[e] from the Virgin Islands' place in the Caribbean community to concerns over the homicide rate in the territory…”

April 13 2011

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