September 25, 2020

Sponsorship Claws

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Another media house has sponsorship deals with some of the quasi-Government bodies i.e. Pirates Week Festival (The C.I. National Festival) and Cayman Arts Festival. In this deal it precludes Pirates Week and Cayman Arts Festival advertising with any other media house INCLUDING FREE advertising.

If this wasn’t enough I, being the co-owner of iNews have been removed, without any prior notice after 28 years, from the executive committee of Pirates Week. I found out only when I asked what was happening this year to be told I could no longer be on the committee because of the sponsorship deal they have with this particular media house. Later that explanation was changed for ‘the need to cut down on the number of persons serving as the committee had too many people and it was becoming unwieldy’. The sponsor represented media and they couldn’t have two people representing media. Having never been on this committee for media, even when I owned CITN- Cayman 27 this explanation was even more bizarre. I was also told that the people now on the committee were all the different organising chairpersons of the events. As I am the organising chairman (or was) of the children’s writing competition even that explanation didn’t ring true.

I had decided not to bring our readerships attention to the Pirates Week sponsorship deal because I have been so much a part of Pirates Week and some of the events were not only my idea but I carried them through including directing, writing and performing in them. I felt uncomfortable about ‘making a fuss.’

Prior to this happening, and again with my long association with the Cayman Drama Society (CDS), I was asked by one of the organisers of a CDS production she was involved in if I could help promote it. I gave three weeks free advertising in colour. When one of my reporters went down to the CDS’s Prospect Playhouse to take photographs, interview members of the cast and production team, he was met with some resistance. One of the cast members was a reporter for this same media house and refused to have his photograph taken nor did he want his name mentioned in iNews.

The Arts is very dear to my heart and, if I can promote it, I will give it my all. When I received a communication from the Cayman Arts Festival at the weekend asking my support for a fund-raising event, I answered back with a promise of some free advertising. I did know that this media house was one of the sponsors. I was, however, shocked to receive the reply that they were unable to accept because of the sponsorship deal they had with this media house.

My sales team has met the same thing with private businesses who have entered into one year exclusive contracts with this same media house that precludes them advertising with a rival newspaper. That is their right. I think the practice is obscene as it stifles competition and is banned from some countries as they say it is unfair. This sort of thing was tried by the major airlines to get rid of the competition. I leave you to judge if you think it is right. However, if you as a company enter into this type of agreement, it is there to try and remove the competition and without competition just see how much you will have to pay when that competition goes away.

However, when organisations that are government funded enter into these agreements, it means that the Cayman Islands Government agrees with this practice. The money involved is our money. It comes out of the public purse. I think it is wrong. CITN-Cayman27 (when I was there) sponsored the Children’s Fun Day for Pirates Week and I placed no restrictions on who could promote it. I was pleased for any outside promotion. There were no ‘strings’ attached to the sponsorship.

When iNews recently sponsored the two Lisa Carlisle concerts we didn’t enter into exclusive deals with St George’s Anglican Church that we were the only media house that could promote it. In fact the largest portion of paid advertising for the two concerts went to this particular media house and to WestStar TV.

I shall be writing next on the story of David and Goliath ……………. and The Trojan Horse….

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