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Observer Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com Sunday, January 26, 2014
HILL (left) and GORE ... unhappy with low level of interest shown by Jamaican exporters

NEW York-based Caribbean media network boss, Stephen Hill, believes that Jamaican exporters are ignoring the most critical route into the huge North American diaspora market, that of television.

And Hill is in a position to know, because he owns the Caribbean International Network (CIN-TV), an internationally-broadcast English language television channel in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) which focuses on Caribbean culture, news, sports, lifestyle, opinions, and entertainment, watched by over half-a-million Caribbean nationals daily on channels 73 and 25.

"It's time to stop talking and start doing something," Hill insisted as he spoke to the Jamaica Observer about the lack of support from local exporters, while lunching at his favourite local spot, the classic Liguanea Club in New Kingston.


"In Jamaica, from thine kingdom come, the politicians, the business people have been saying that they are going to export more and more; but until now, no one has been able to get that done except for a few major companies, like GraceKennedy and Jamaica National," he commented.

Hill and his partner, Bob Gore, who heads Bob Gore Productions, a New York television syndication company, are disappointed by the low interest shown by local exporters. They feel that they have done enough to open the media gateway into the heart of the Caribbean diaspora, but are failing to attract the traffic they expected into this prized market.

A survey last year by the highly-thought-of Hope Research Group gave CIN just over 57 per cent of the English-speaking Caribbean heritage viewership residing in the New York area, when it is on air. This was a higher viewership than highly established networks like Fox, CBS, ABC and the Discovery Channel.

The US 2012 census showed that the English-speaking Caribbean audience (by households) in New York totalled 450,589. CIN had a minimum viewership of 238,812, but when extrapolated to include other persons watching together, it was found that the viewership could increase to as many as over half-a-million.

The Hope Research Group pointed out that CIN is watched equally by both men and women and has reach among all age groups, but is particularly strong among 30-49-year-olds. It has a 64.3 per cent popularity rating, with Caribbean people earning US$12,001 and above, and 59.4 per cent popularity among the first-generation Caribbean nationals polled.

Its most popular programme is Cover Story (Jamaica News), with 57.3 per cent of the survey's respondents tuning in. This is followed by the music video programme, Irie Vibes, with 37.7 per cent and Entertainment Report with Anthony Miller at 33.3 per cent.

"What you have to bear in mind is that all they recorded were from the English-speaking Caribbean market. But we know that there are a lot more people - Haitians, French, Dominicans - apart from the 558,000 people from the English-speaking Caribbean market who they say were watching," Hill emphasised.

According to Gore, who first came up with the idea of a Caribbean-owned and controlled television network, utilising a former NYC council commercial channel, CIN not only has the numbers, but the quality viewership, too.
"The largest share of our audience are those people with the most disposable income, and those are the customers you want to go after. Those are the ones who will make a difference," Gore stated.

"Those are the people who are buying the kind of products you want to introduce into the US marketplace. My view is that the New York area is the second-largest Caribbean market in the whole world, outside of the region. There are more people from the Caribbean, or with Caribbean roots in the New York metropolitan area (than anywhere else outside the Caribbean)," Gore noted. "So, if you want to reach Caribbean viewers, without going through the costly major networks, we have a Caribbean audience that are watching us before they watch ABC, CBS or NBC, and that's an achievement."

But Hill lamented that despite this saturation of the tri-state Caribbean market, CIN has failed to get the level of support it expected from Jamaican exporters who need to penetrate the area's huge commercial market.
He said that what Jamaican manufacturers need to understand is that the reason Americans have so many global American brands is that they have been able to create media which is seen around the globe.

"They trumpet their brands like Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola, and the only way the Caribbean is going to have that kind of success and create global brands is to have media that is doing the same thing," he argued.
"We are strategic and we are sort of like guerrillas: We have gone right into New York and we are doing what they have been doing successfully around the world. Now a Jamaican can turn on his television in New York, today, and see shows like Oliver or Joint Tenants, and so on," he explained.

CIN began as an idea and a single half-hour programme 20 years ago, founded by Hill, a very prominent Jamaican impressario of the 1970s and 1980s, and advertiser Ronnie Nasralla.

They went to New York with a few segments of local television series Oliver, starring Oliver Samuels, and a dream of creating the first television service targeting the rapidly growing Caribbean population. Now each day CIN can be seen on channel 73 reaching the five boroughs of New York, and on NYCTV reaching 18.9 million people in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. With new extended reach, CIN makes sure that the over two million Caribbean-Americans stay connected to their history and culture, through a menu of news, sports, drama and music programmes created exclusively for the large Caribbean Diaspora.

CIN recently acquired the rights to broadcast the Jamaican police drama, Squaddy, which was introduced on Flow TV in October last year, as a partnership between Flow and eMedia. Other programmes on the network include: What a Gwaan; Schools' Challenge Quiz; The Ity and Fancy Cat Show; the drama Me & Mi Kru and the Jamaica Information Service's (JIS) Jamaica Magazine.

Hill said that the network believes it can also become the gateway into the US market for Caribbean music videos and sitcoms and fashion shows. He said that in the future, the company also hopes to be able to carry live coverage of popular calendar shows like Reggae Sumfest and Rebel Salute.

However, he said that will take some serious planning, creative thinking, and more advertising revenue.



  • 11:00 p.m. - Irie Vibes
  • 12:00 a.m. - Entertainment Report
  • 12:30 a.m. - Juss A Buss
  • 11:00 p.m. - Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall
  • 12:00 a.m. - CIN Hot Music Videos
  • 7:00 a.m. - Cover Story (Jamaica News)
  • 7:30 a.m. - Trinidad News In Review
  • 11:30 a.m. – Hidden Treasures
  • 12:00 p.m. - Juss A Buss
  • 12:30 p.m. – Video Alley
  • 1:30 p.m. - Trinidad News
  • 5:30 p.m. - Jussbuss Acoustics
  • 6:00 p.m. - Junior Schools Challenge Quiz
  • 6:30 p.m. - Cover Story (Jamaica News)
  • 7:00 p.m. - Entertainment Report(rept. of Fri 12 a.m.)
  • 7:30 p.m. - Di Riddim Sweet
  • 11:00 p.m. - Di Riddim Sweet
  • 11:30 p.m. - Jussbuss Acoustics

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