Trinidad-Tobago government closes non-profitable state media

Public Administration and Communication Minister, Maxie Cuffie

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad – The Trinidad and Tobago government announced on Friday the closure of the state-run New Media Group (CNMG), putting more than 100 employees out of work.

But Public Administration and Communication Minister, Maxie Cuffie, said that a new entity carrying the name, the Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) station, a throwback to the days prior to the start of CNMG in 2005, would be formed and that the dismissed workers could re-apply for positions.

“As you know a decision was taken by cabinet yesterday to wind up the operations of the state-owned media company CNMG and to revisit and resume broadcast through Trinidad and Tobago Television Company Limited,” Cuffie told a news conference on Friday.

He said in December 2015, Cabinet had appointed a team to look into the operations of CNMG and the Government Information Services Limited (GISL) and whether they were serving their mandates.

He said after the report was received, Cabinet authorised an audit of the two companies, adding that “in terms of CNMG, the company has never been able to fulfil its mandate and based on the market share according to a 2014 media survey, which is the last one…the market share was five to six per cent” with two of the radio stations having less than one per cent.

“Commercial revenue had fluctuated between TT$30 (One TT dollar=US$0.16 cents) and TT$33 million over years 2011 to 2015,” Cuffie said, noting that operational costs “had steadily increased, ranging from TT$18.1 million in 2011 to TT$26.3 million in 2015.

He said expenses have increased annually from TT$44 million in 2011 to TT$56 million last year.

“As a result subventions had also increased from TT$10 million in 2012 to TT$23 million in 2015 and the company had neither achieved financial success or success in terms of its mandate and growing market share”.

He said in fiscal 2016, given the prevailing economic situation here, the subvention was reduced to TT$16.1 million.

Cuffie said that the company had 112 fixed term employees and 37 free lancers.