No to Exclusive Sports Broadcasts
I will always contend that no single TV station should receive exclusive on West Indies cricket. It's so simple really. Let’s take the silly situation in Jamaica where Sports Max buys exclusive rights to certain matches. Now, the people in Bob Marley’s parish of St. Ann may not have Sports Max up in the hills and they are the real cricket fans. Usain Bolt's cousins in the rural parish of Trelawney may not have cable to watch Chris Gayle batting for the boys in maroon.
How did we arrive here? Two despicable reasons.
Firstly, the ballooning ego of sales managers and programme director who want to sit in their respective departments in Monday morning meetings and boast how they outdid the competition last week. What they have done is to create a dwindling support base for our sports.
The second and equally foolish reason for television stations in a small island economy negotiating for exclusive broadcasts is that it's done in North America. Trouble is, there is easier access to media and media houses in the pluralistic society of North America.
What exclusive sports marketing have done for local sporting traditions has been to push a game like cricket into the background during g major test match. The only TV station carrying the game is a more often than not a relatively new cable station, which is not even on the list for some cable providers. Sometimes the exclusive contracts that they have negotiated will preclude radio broadcast. This wipes out the rural audience.
The farmer on his donkey with the radio in the hamper can’t listen to cricket anymore because the big city cable station has bought exclusive rights. His wife washing clothes by the riverside can’t hear the score between her soap opera and talk show anymore because the cable station in the big city has gobbled up exclusive rights.
My solution to this fiasco is simple. go back to the days when major free to air television stations as well as their radio affiliates are able to broadcast national and regional sporting events, and by mutual agreement will carry alternate games in say, World Cup football, for example.