Wrong type of Buzz


The news that local television station Television Jamaica, TVJ had got exclusive rights to  broadcast the U.S. music reality programme The Voice, in the island resulted in a twitter tirade from local fans of the programme on Monday. However it seemed that TVJ might redeem itself by coming up with a compromise that would allow for live viewing of the programme locally. Surely the twitter tea cup storm would be abated but it was not to be.

The  NBC show has just begun a new season and what is of particular interest to local audiences is that Jamaican  Tessanne Chin has advanced past the opening round.

Reaction to the TVJ acquisition, was swift and not complimentary. Whether it was the shock of discovering that the show could not be accessed directly from originating station NBC via cable or the idea that the broadcast on TVJ would be delayed, the twussing (twitter cussing) came thick, fast and often explicit.

A certain section of the Jamaican twitterati did not mince words, some straightforward annoyance and questioning of the decision and the impact it may have on the swell of pride and support for Tessanne Chin as the show continues into the live rounds, were among the themes of comments.

Later on there were some bold enough to tweet against the tide and welcome the decision to bring the show to the cable  haves and have nots. Meanwhile others noted that all this was happening on a day when chicken prices and water rates were raised. Perhaps in the face of this people wanted some reliable escapist entertainment to take their mind of these and other troubles and they wanted it live.

Sports fans noted, that blocking cable channels in the light of local TV exclusive rights to content, was nothing new to them. If anything the twitteraction is an indication that if both the NBC feed and the TVJ broadcast of the same programme was available many would opt for the former.

It may have  seemed like a good idea at the time and maybe it was, a quick thinking sponsorship coup, but it began disintegrating with successive tweets and retweets.

Soon via twitter, both Digicel the sponsors of the broadcasts and the TVJ General Manager, advised that a solution was being sought. The TVJ GM addressed her tweeps, which I imagine in social or perhaps anti-social media parlance means friends, though I doubt the twussers saw it like that.

Later it was announced that the show would be live on cable companion station RETV with a rebroadcast on TVJ later.

It was unfortunate for TVJ that perhaps it was just one of the days when Murphy was trying to prove his law, but things did not turn out well on Tuesday. The live broadcast on RETV wasn’t, the apology was late and grammatically incorrect. Matters were not helped by the showing of promos over and over, especially one that proudly announced in the midst of the mess, that this was real Jamaican TV. The programme appeared briefly on JNN but it was missing an essential element in a singing show, sound. Finally RETV found its sound and vision and the show was on but with an additional electronic buzz.

Tuesday’s show was a compilation of the best of the blind auditions and some additional bits, given that, TVJ maybe has some time to sort out the technical problems,  do damage control and perhaps rally support from  loyal viewers, and they are out there, the real TVJ tweeps.

It has never been easy to do local television in Jamaica, a small market with a small advertising pie. It is more challenging these days with cable operators giving consumers such a multitude of choice, making money from cable, phone, internet and advertising. Meanwhile local free to air television stations compete on a lean playing field, made up of cable, internet, YouTube and competition from other local media entities offering video.

Playing the local card is one of the main options open to them, as well as bringing local sensibility to international events.  For example paying for Caribbean coverage of the Olympics where commentators tell you who wins a race even if it is not the U.S. There is also support for local programmes some have been running for decades.

The twitter reaction  to the Voice issue, suggests TVJ was going to be damned if it did and damned if it didn’t.

What would be the reaction of those without cable access,  if they couldn’t get a chance to see the Jamaican interest in this U.S. show like cable viewers? Watchers  on cable got a taste of being locked out of the live loop in a time of twitter and facebook, on Tuesday and they didn’t like it much.

If TVJ can sort out whatever technical issues there have been,  this like many other things  may be forgiven if not forgotten and the station and the rest of us can enjoy a different kind of buzz about the Voice, one  that is not about where, when and how you watch but has all to do with Tessanne and entertainment.

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Jamaica, New Year, New Prime Minister, Swearing In


Jamaica starts the year off with a new government and a new Prime Minister and it all becomes official on Thursday January 5.

Portia Simpson Miller leader of the Peoples National party will be sworn in by the Governor General at a ceremony at Kings House, Kingston.

There is no definitive word on the new cabinet for except for the suggestion from   the party that some key ministers will likley be sworn in on January 6th.

The PNP won the December 29 2011 General Election with 42 seats to the JLP’s 21 this tally is one up from election night as after the final count the JLP lost a seat. Turnout for the election was reportedly low on this island nation of over 2.7 million people.

The ceremony will be attended by, the diplomats, members of the ruling party and opposition, academics, business persons and other invited guests.

vuvuzelas not welcome

One thing that won’t be welcome is the vuvuzela,  the  noise maker that became a feature of the campaign trail and political meetings among the party faithful on both sides. Word from the organisers of the event is  that this South African horn that  resembles an overgrown party favour will be plastic non grata at the event on the lawns of the Governor General’s residence

The vuvuzela came to notice during the World Cup Football competition in South Africa and the sound maker made its presence heard   late last year, when the new leader of the Jamaica Labour Party, Andrew Holness was sworn in as Prime Minister after  JLP leader and Prime Minister Bruce Golding stepped down.

The ban  is probably based on the experience of the pomp punctuating chorus of the vuvuzelas at that event. According to press reports it’s a matter of discipline and not just decibels and the order comes from Prime Minister elect Portia Simpson Miller herself.

So vuvuzela joyful sound maker or irritating noise maker whatever the verdict, not for the swearing in, out of sight and out of earshot.

Perhaps the determined owners of an iphone can download a vuvuzela app instead.


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People Power Wins Big in Jamaican General Elections

The opposition Peoples National Party scored a resounding victory in the Jamaican general elections, winning 41 out of the 63 seats contested.

The ruling  Jamaica Labour party  took 22 seats.

In her victory speech Peoples National Party Leader Portia Simpson- Miller, thanked the people for giving her her mandate and the Prime Minister  for his concession telephone call which she  described  as very gracious.

The speech was heavy on love, togetherness, thanks for the victory and wishes for peace, there was little on what we are to expect  but these occasions are rarely about that, and given the  scale of the victory perhaps the party  can not be blamed for wanting to savour the moment before getting down to the hard work of governing  the country.

The Prime Minister elect,  told the country that they would hear from the party  soon, as it organised to take over the government.  She promised that as the PNP move to balance the books it will be moving to balance people’s lives too.

Speaking of his party’s defeat a sombre  Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness spoke about the need for the party to rebuild and start campaigning for the next election he added that it was a humbling experience and there will need to be a time of introspection and reflection.

It was a triumphant turn around  for Simpson – Miller from the defeat in 2007, when after becoming Prime Minister when PJ Patterson stepped down  after a leadership race within the party, she fought and lost her first election campaign   from that position.

As the results came in things began to look bleak for the JLP as some key  candidates lost to the PNP and the number of declared PNP seats began to rack up towards the 30 plus mark.

Some suggest that this was a vote to vote out the JLP rather than vote in the PNP, whilst others say it was an election  possibility squandered by the JLP because of off kilter strategy, bad timing and percieved arrogance.

Whatever the motivation of the electorate the results are in are in and winners and losers alike have to get on with what lies ahead now the nation has decided.