By CHARLEEN THOMAS, www.newsday.co.tt
EMPLOYEES of the National Broadcasting Network (NBN) remained puzzled yesterday about the reason Government decided to close down the company to restructure it, even as they received letters of acceptance of their VSEP application forms from management. And some of them were said to be still holding out hope that the company will not be closed next Friday. Newsday visited the Maraval Road media house yesterday to get the mood of the workers. Verne Burnett, Assignments Editor, who has worked at the company since 1975 as a news editor, said, “Undoubtedly it is the end of an era. Most of us grew up on TTT and 610 Radio and yes there is a bit of nostalgia on its closing.” He said the closure might have been inevitable and certainly wasn’t a surprise, given that it was unprofitable and efforts failed to make it work.
Burnett said on the pragmatic side, people acknowledged that once Government “bit the bullet” and closed Caroni (1975) Ltd, it was more than likely that NBN would be closed. He said, however, that even as the date of the closure was announced, some were “hopeful it was not so. Even now some still feel there will be a change of mind (by Government) in the next week.” Burnett said in the face of the optimism, there is “gallows humour” about the matter. As for his future, he said he has several options and may even explore his interest in publishing. Whatever he does, he said he would remain a journalist. Reporter Narissa Mandol, who has been with the company for the last five and a half years, said having grown up on TTT, “rushing home to see Sesame Street and Rikki Tikki, its a tragedy in the sense that the public is so silent. It is the hardest thing to understand.”
Mandol said it was a “daily triumph” when the Panorama News was broadcast, as they faced numerous difficulties with faulty equipment to produce the newscast. “It was a matter of making a miracle happen and yet we gave the competition a good run for their money,” with the human interest and cultural features. She describes the compound over the last few days as a “ghost town.” Mandol, who is pursuing studies in Business Management, said she can’t understand why the company is closing down to upgrade and she can’t imagine herself working with another media house, because of her loyalty to the company. She said because of the stress over the last few weeks, many employees will take time off before looking for employment.
Vashtee Achibar, a producer who has worked for the last seven years at TTT, said her main concern was that several people in deep South, like Erin where she lives, would be without television entertainment. She was very happy that Newsday brought the matter to the attention of the public. Shiva Parasram, Video Editor, whose father Jai Parasram also worked with TTT, said a number of people left when the closure was announced. He is unsure of what he will do next, but says he might pack up his bags and head to Canada where his family lives. Ashford Jackman, Head of Sports, told Newsday that having been at the company for 28 years, the “emotions were just beginning to surface.” He spent six years as a technical operator.
He said like many others, he was in a “reflective mood,” as NBN “made me and I bled for it.” He sees no reason for the closure and while there are several good employees, others never lived up to expectations. Jackman reminisced about the factors which brought the company to where it is today, which includes the merger of the radio and TV arms in 1994, and the continued interference by successive Governments. He wondered if Government really wanted the company to survive. He said a lot of employees are hurting so badly that they simply wanted to get out.
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