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February 26 2014

February 17 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.

January 10 2014

PHOTOS: Christmas Flooding in the Eastern Caribbean

On Christmas Eve several islands in the Eastern Caribbean, including Dominica, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, were affected by a tropical wave that resulted in several hours of rainfall, severe flooding and over a dozen deaths.

Many people were trapped and stranded because they were making last minute preparations for Christmas celebrations.

Saint Lucia, which still bears the scars from Hurricane Tomas in 2010, saw extensive flooding and the destruction of several bridges in the south-west of the island, isolating some communities. At least five deaths were reported, including one police officer who died in the course of a rescue effort.

A section of the Anse Ger Road in Saint Lucia collapsed

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

Terminal of the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia

In the online group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress, several people, particularly from the diaspora, organized to send relief to those in need. Many questioned the public information (or the lack thereof) relayed by the National Emergency Organization and the Meteorological Office prior to the storm.

Wayne Vitalis was very critical of Saint Lucia's emergency management:

Martinique's Met Office denies radar malfunction; St. Lucia's Met Office denies radar malfunction …….. But some Lucians deny incompetence. The Lord cannot help us with that! NEMO must answer for what they told the nation, not to mention the chaotic/non-response to guiding and coordinating the nation's response to the disaster. 

Ananias Verneuil wondered if the fact that the storm came outside of the recognized hurricane season (June to November) could explain the response:

In my opinion this system came after normal hurricane season and therefore it was not considered to be cyclonic. In this regard, we all were caught with our pants down. It was a trough that contained unusual amount of rainfall that could not have been estimated before the down pour.

Minerva Ward sarcastically responded that it was unfair to expect the emergency services to be at work during the Christmas season:

Now I beginning to find yall real rude and outta place to expect NEMO and the Met Office to be working on Christmas Eve! Don't you'll know Christmas week everyting in government shut down. Yall actually expect government employees to be working?? The ppl must have been out on their shopping day you'll deh stressing the ppl with a stupid little upper level trough. Yall really expecting a lot!! So what if the whole country washes out to sea, it's Christmas and u dun know how tings run in St Lucia.

Fred Walcott felt that it would be prudent to find out what happened in the neighboring islands regarding the storm warning:

How did the other islands fare? Did they receive adequate notification? Were they prepared? What, if any, was the impact if they did receive adequate notice? This not an attempt to absolve NEMO or any other agency responsible for alerting the public. With enough notice people in flood prone areas can be persuaded to move to higher ground, companies can elevate their sensitive gear above known flood levels and cover same with damp-proof material. etc, etc. pre- Disaster mitigation procedures can be initiated. Like the island all utilities should have a disaster plan and execute regular disaster drills.


Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

Runway of the Hewanorra International Airport.

The Piaye Bridge in the south-west of Saint Lucia was washed away.

The Piaye Bridge in the Southwest of Saint Lucia was washed away.

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed

Part of the Vieux Fort highway,which had been originally been constructed as part of a U.S. base in the 1940s, collapsed


Gas Station in Bexon

House in Bexon

House in Bexon


Flood damage in Bexon

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

Canaries Bridge , part of Saint Lucia's West Coast Highway, was washed away.

While there was flooding in Dominica, the self-proclaimed land of 365 rivers, there has been no report of casualties. However, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has estimated that the rehabilitation works would cost approximately EC$45 million dollars.

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica

Elmshall Bridge in Dominica


Flooding in Roseau, Dominica


Mudslide in Citronnier, Dominica


Streets in Dominica filled with mud,

In St. Vincent, initial reports were that eight people (including children) died as a result of the storm, with some people still being reported as missing. The storm damage was particularly severe in the North Leeward region of the island. According to media reports, the E.T. Joshua Airport and the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital were both surrounded by water. The Grenadines escaped serious damage.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

Caratal Bridge in Georgetown, St. Vincent.


Flood damage in Georgetown, St. Vincent.


Flood damage in St. Vincent

Flood damage in St. Vincent


House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

House in Rose Bank Where Five People Died.

The photos above are used with the permission of Tamiko Sabrina, Johnson Jkube James, Linus Cauzabon, Natalia Bhajan, and Yukanka Daniel.

Reposted byniklash niklash

July 09 2013

Caribbean: Tropical Storm Chantal

Tropical Storm Chantal has caused the temporary closure of some regional airports and the cancellation of flights. The Bajan Reporter has the latest.

February 14 2013

March 15 2012

November 07 2011

Caribbean: the meaning of identity

Creative Commess hosts a blog symposium “about Caribbean people, about West Indian people, about our contemporary experiences … ranging through race & identity to culture, mental health to constructs of beauty and more,” with contributions from seven Caribbean bloggers.

September 05 2011

Dominica: On a Single Regional Economy

Caribbean Man says of the Caribbean Single Market & Economy, which is meant to encourage free movement within the region: “Like every other Caribbean institution, when the ethos has to turn into action it can easily get distorted.”

September 01 2011

Dominica: Decriminalising Marijuana

“The obsession with ganja is almost consuming. In a country where there are so many more serious issues like abuse of women, child molestation, incest and petty crime, it doesn't seem to fit”: Caribbean Man makes a case for legalisation.

July 25 2011

Caribbean: Commonwealth Stories for Online Time Capsule

The Royal Commonwealth Society is creating the world's largest online time capsule in honour of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and wants regional/Commonwealth bloggers to share their stories. Get involved, here.

July 11 2011

Dominica: “Price is King”

“One of the biggest ironies of Dominica is that whilst the economy contracts, more and more people are importing food and inferior products and dumping it on our markets”: Caribbean Man doesn't understand why his compatriots seem to prefer the cheap option.

July 08 2011

Caribbean: Indigenous News

Review of the Indigenous Caribbean posts a video of “a fairly elementary but well synthesized historical overview of the indigenous people of Dominica”, while The Voice of the Taino People Online notes the passing of Ricardo Alegria, “a Puerto Rican scholar known for his pioneering studies of the island's native Taino culture.”

June 06 2011

Dominica: Existing Sodomy Law

“Either accept it is part of the belief system the country wants to communicate to the world, or consider that controlling sexuality through a combination of religious thought systems and laws is dangerous and repeal the [sodomy] law”: For Caribbean Man, it's all a question of consistency.

March 23 2011

Trinidad & Tobago, Dominica: Position on Gender Equity

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

Globewriter on the UN Joint Statement on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: “The English Caribbean (including T&T which continues to betray its alleged commitment to human rights) was notably absent except for Dominica. I can only surmise that the normally homophobic Dominica either had a coup or someone pushed the wrong button.”

March 04 2011

February 17 2011

Dominica: First Indigenous Lawyer

Written by Janine Mendes-Franco

The Voice of the Taino People Online is proud to tell the story of “Pearl Diane Williams…the first indigenous Kalinago Carib person from Waitikubuli (Dominica) and possibly the Eastern Caribbean to be admitted to the Bar in the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

December 29 2010

December 24 2010

Caribbean: Defining Moments of 2010

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Many landmark events happened in the Caribbean this year, prompting reactions from the regional blogosphere - from student protests at the University of Puerto Rico to the release of Cuban political prisoners. Perhaps the most heartbreaking of these was the devastating earthquake in Haiti. Many bloggers were still wrapped up in the novelty and fresh hopes for the New year when disaster struck on January 12, setting a sombre tone for the months ahead. Here are our picks for the stories that defined the Caribbean blogosphere in 2010…

The Haiti Earthquake
Sudden, unexpected, unforgiving: Measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale, this earthquake was bound to do serious damage wherever it struck. In Haiti, a poor island nation with inadequate infrastructure and the majority of the population living in sub-standard conditions, the effects were disastrous. As the death toll continued to rise and the country remained immobilized, the region (and the world!) came to the country's aid. Bloggers were desperately hoping that the rescue efforts would prove successful, even in the face of massive aftershocks; citizen media rose to the challenge, sending out valuable first-hand information.

Tent city, Juvenat, by caribbeanfreephoto, used under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic Creative Commons License.

Global Voices Online sent a team to Haiti in the earthquake's aftermath, primarily to offer support for citizen media, since we believe that there is a real need to amplify Haitian voices when it comes to relief and reconstruction efforts. Our Managing Director, Georgia Popplewell, and former GV Lingua Team Leader, Alice Backer, “[made] contact with Haitians using citizen media tools, and [identified] others with the potential to participate in and enrich the online conversation, given the right resources”, with a view to increasing the amount of local citizen media activity. Visit our Special Coverage Page for various perspectives on the earthquake and subsequent relief efforts.

As if the devastating effects of the earthquake on the local food supply weren't enough, Haitian farmers also had to hurriedly mobilise against Monsanto, a company that produces genetically modified seed and wanted to get a foot in the door, via “a donation of conventional corn and vegetable seeds to farmers in Haiti, to help increase food production and aid long-term earthquake recovery.”

Towards the end of a trying year, the country faced a debilitating cholera crisis, braced for a hurricane and, when it appeared that the cholera epidemic was brought into the country by (largely unwelcome) UN peacekeepers, tried as best it could to function in the midst of violent protests.

Natural disasters and health challenges were not the only challenges the island nation faced. Its annus horriblis came to a climax with the staging of the country's controversial elections; bloggers are still questioning the transparency of the process, even as results continue to be verified.

These ripple effects of the January 12 earthquake have undoubtedly made 2010 a year Haiti would rather forget, but the reality is that other regional territories were also affected by the tremor. The Dominican Republic and Haiti share the same island, Hispaniola [ES: La Española]. Since borders are fluid and permeable, everything that affects one country affects the other in some way or another. Therefore, the Dominican Republic also felt the aftermath of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti, leaving at least 300,000 dead and many thousands more homeless and living in extremely harsh conditions.

The Puerto Rico Student Protests
Puerto Rico battled a severe economic crisis during 2010. The despair and angst caused by conservative public social and economic policies provided the context for the student strike that paralyzed the main campus of the state-run University of Puerto Rico during two months starting in April 2010. Students of campuses from all over the island joined the protest against educational budget cuts, and their plight catalyzed a national social movement.

Students protest at the main campus of the UPR. Photo by Ricardo Alcaraz of Diálogo. Republished under a CC License.

In December 2010, students of the main campus in Río Piedras, San Juan, declared a second strike, this time specifically against an annual $800 fee. The government ordered the Police to occupy the university’s campuses, which has led to violent confrontations with students. During both strikes, students have creatively used online platforms, blogs and social media networks, to express themselves.

The Jamaica State of Emergency
The eyes of the world were focused on Jamaica from late May, as the Prime Minister finally stopped trying to escape the inevitable and allowed the US extradition request for alleged drug don Christopher “Dudus” Coke to be signed, setting in motion a series of events that practically held the country in a vice grip for over a month. As @anniepaul put it:

The pact between the criminals and the state has been broken, we are being shown the consequences of that rupture…

Citizen media did a stellar job as a reliable source of information throughout the unrest. Our Special Coverage Page has all the details.

The Release of Cuban Political Prisoners
Over the course of the last few months, the Cuban government, as part of a deal brokered by the Spanish government and the Catholic Church, has released several prisoners of conscience, albeit to exile in Spain. The move followed the death of hunger striker Orlando Zapato Tamayo, after which the situation on the island became even more tense, with Cuban authorities clamping down on bloggers and activists around the time of Tamayo's funeral. Thirteen prisoners are still due to be released under the agreement; although the deadline has already passed, bloggers are still watching the situation closely.

This was not the only important story to come out of Cuba this year: soon after Fidel Castro admitted to a reporter (and subsequently retracted his statement) that the Cuban economic model no longer works, the government began the process of cutting 500,000 state jobs, in an effort resuscitate the island's struggling economy.

Interestingly, the government also announced that a submarine fiber optic cable linking Venezuela, Cuba, and Jamaica, will be operating by January of 2011. Although this will greatly enhance the quality of Internet connectivity, it will not necessarily lead to more access.

Plane crash in Central Cuba. Courtesy of Escambray.

On November 4, sixty-eight people died in the crash of an Aerocaribbean plane in central Cuba. Social media networks immediately became one of the main channels of communication.

Sad Farewells
Several regional territories had to say goodbye to national icons this year: Barbados lost its relatively new and certainly youngest-ever Prime Minister, Jamaica - and indeed the world - lost reggae icon Gregory “Cool Ruler” Isaacs to cancer and Monserrat (and calypso fans everywhere) said their final farewell to Arrow, the man who brought us the mega-hit “Hot, Hot, Hot”.

In other music news, reggae star Buju Banton was a regular topic of discussion in the regional blogosphere, as he went to court in the United State to defend himself against drug trafficking charges. After the judge presiding over his case declared a mistrial in September, the singer is scheduled to go through the process again, with a new trial beginning early in the New Year.

Hurricane Season
The 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season started early, with Hurricane Earl, which was closely followed by Igor and finally, Tomas, the storm which appeared to have done the greatest damage. When neighbouring nations pledged their relief support in the hurricane's aftermath, Trinidad and Tobago's newly-elected (and first female) Prime Minister came under fire for her statement that that any release of the twin island republic's aid dollars hinged on reciprocal economic benefits. Her words was interpreted as insensitive and prompted an online boycott of Trinidad and Tobago products across the region.

From natural disasters to political wrangling, 2010 was a busy year - and as 2011 approaches, the Global Voices Caribbean Team will continue to monitor the regional blogosphere in an ongoing effort to facilitate meaningful conversation and understanding throughout the Caribbean archipelago.

Firuzeh Shokooh Valle contributed to this post.

December 17 2010

Dominica: Authentic Craft

By Janine Mendes-Franco

Dominica Weekly is proud of its craftspeople, saying: “Dominica is ahead of the game when it comes to authentic art and craft.”

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