An assessment of our TV channels
Stabroek News
March 9, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I would like to offer my assessment of the television stations. There is essentially no indication of inspiring genius, no attempt at professionalism, no obvious independent creativity. Of the channels that may be viewed here in Georgetown, it is easy to guess the mentality and biases of the owners.

STVS wants so much to be the best. There is variety in their movie

selections and their guide is more often than not kept. Their music video lists reflect a great deal of sensitivity towards our racial dichotomy. They don't show much else, except a talkative Sean Devers in the mornings.

CNS begs for recognition. They appeal unabashedly towards the lowest common denominator in issues they perceive to be of national interest, but then, that is it. They don't sit down and plan how best to couch the rawest of information available to them. As it comes, so they show it: anytime, anywhere, anyhow.

WRHM is by a long shot the channel for the intellectuals of the country. There is a decided interest in bringing foreign current affairs to the middle and upper class. Who else plays golf in Guyana; and really, what is all the fuss about the Super Bowl? But then, it is nice being assured that should anything important be happening in the world, regular programming would be interrupted. The best American movies, and sitcoms and talk shows and game shows are all there.

NBTV is always dark. Its entire guide is obviously aimed towards the black PNC voters of Georgetown. There is not a day that goes by without the Wailers and Eddy on show. On Sundays, the Black Americans have their opportunity to regurgitate the past and spew it on the few whites here. Not much of interest there, except for those bent on, as it were, sucking their finger in childish anger and holding on to their mother's apron string.

GTV is the worst of all channels. You could be watching an interesting BBC programme, when suddenly without warning in the middle of it, you find yourself gazing at a traffic officer telling you how to use the road, as if you don't know. (The reason why carnage continues is not out of ignorance, but out of wilful neglect to obey the law.) Their news is palatable only to the government of the day. Their timing is all mixed up and wrong. They show the most violent movies and censor nudity; yet, by some weird thinking, proudly present the little girls wining down on stage for Mashramani, even giving the Don Gomes girls "exposure".

RBS is the sitcom channel, the wrestling channel, and the one hour programme channel. Georgetown can be burning down, but if you can't take it, watch this channel and you won't have to worry about a thing.

VCT's audience is the middle age, middle income women of Guyana. Oprah, Lifetime movies, the fantasy world of E! TV, the World War II History Channel, the horrible treatment of women at the hands of their men folk in the FBI files and so forth, and expensive palatable televangelists who promise great blessings for gifts received: these constitute, metaphorically, a certain mindset obtainable only by persons who are striving to leave the ignorance of the lower class.

With the same measure with which NBTV appeals to the black audience, so MTV and NTN appeal to an Indian audience, the latter more so than the former. MTV could be a good channel, but apparently, they are content to make money and go to sleep at nights. There is no commercial dynamism there.

I don't get to see any other TV channels because their signal is too weak, which is regrettable really. But what is even more so is that no poll is conducted in Guyana like a Neilson index to guide these channels in their programming policy. There is no feedback available to them.

Except for Guyana Today on GTV, the other morning shows are raw money making poor radio programmes. I wish I could have been proud of what we have to offer, which is basically this much: talk shows.

Yours faithfully,

Mark A.C. Blair