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JBC sport archives missing

Media manager wants centralised storage, multimedia museum

BY DANIA BOGLE Observer staff reporter bogled@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 06, 2012    

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One local media manager wants the country to set up a central repository where video and film footage, as well as other recordings of sporting events of national importance could be stored for posterity.

Managing director of the RJR Communications Group, Gary Allen, said yesterday that this repository is one way of safeguarding the continued preservation of the country's rich heritage. He believes local media should, as a matter of policy, be required to make deposits of recordings of national events at regular intervals.

"Media that are covering certain events should be required to lodge in a central body certain national events that they cover so that that goes towards the development of this national richness in archive that we all have a part in," he said.

He was speaking against the background of the disappearance of some of the country's most important footage capturing Jamaica's rich sporting legacy from the archives of the now defunct Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC).

"Some of it is there (but) some good portions of the heritage captured by the JBC is nowhere to be found," Allen told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

Allen, as well as other senior managers of various media houses in Jamaica, was a member of Thursday's consultation with private sector stakeholders to gather feedback on the Green Paper for the National Sports Policy.

The RJR head added that the Government should also seek to have repatriated any content of Jamaica's sporting icons.

"If we, by policy, determine that there would be a unit that seeks to access and repatriate for archiving and museum purposes all that is being held, then we could establish a substantial collection of the things that our sporting icons have done across the world."

The media managers had stressed the importance of establishing a multimedia sports museum to help preserve the legacy of Jamaica's sporting heritage. However, Allen noted that much of the archives from the JBC, which was sold and later became Television Jamaica (TVJ), is no longer available.

"It's less than 20 years ago that the JBC, which is now no longer with us, was the sole television operating entity in Jamaica and so, you have to now depend on whatever archive material they had, and some of what we have found is that some of the best bits and pieces of Jamaica's sporting and other heritage has been missing from their archives," he stated.

It was revealed some time ago that some of the musical and other archives from the former government-run institution had also gone missing.

Among these lost treasures were numerous episodes of the hit shows Miss Lou and Mass Ran, Here Comes Charlie, Ring Ding and Teenage Dance Party.

Media reports over the years have pointed to carelessness at the JBC as facilitating the loss of these archives. Also, over time, improper storage of these tapes and film resulted in their being erased and put back into rotation as blanks. One newspaper report from 2001 said tapes acquired by the National Library had actually been salvaged from the yard of the JBC.

The news comes less than a month before Jamaica begins its medal quest in the 2012 London Olympic Games, and in the 50th year of the country's political Independence from Great Britain.

The group, meanwhile, noted that a multimedia sports museum would also enhance the development of sports tourism.

"Sports tourism ought not be considered as a means to come in and watch a sporting event. Sports tourism is all that we have produced in media and all that we have done as a nation that's captured in some kind or form that can be experienced by Jamaicans and people visiting Jamaica, and having somewhere to go and interact, interface and see them," Allen told the Observer.

He added: "In 2012 there must be advantage taken of the technologies to demonstrate, display, and excite people with the years of exciting sporting tradition that we have from cricket to cycling, boxing, track and field... It must be captured somewhere and must be the linchpin of the sports tourism."

It was suggested that the Trelawny Multipurpose Stadium house the proposed museum, given its location close to the heart of Jamaica's tourist capital, and being sited in the parish of birth of local sport stars Veronica Campbell-Brown and Usain Bolt.

Asked if he thought successive governments had done enough to preserve Jamaica's sporting legacy, Allen responded: "One would have to ask the question 'Would a Jamaican be able to say today that they have access to interact, interface easily with our sporting history?' Where can they do that and what would they find? And I think that when they ask those questions it would then answer whether or not at the central authority planning stage, or at the archiving stage that has been done."

The Green Paper on the National Sports Policy was tabled in parliament in November 2011 and the White Paper is expected to the tabled by the end of this month at the end of the consultations.

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