Oliver McIntosh, president and CEO of VertiCast Media Group, which on Monday finalised a deal to acquire CVM-TV, has labelled the development as a huge step forward in the local and regional sports media landscape, even while outlining plans to leverage the group's high-value sports properties.
VertiCast already secured the rights for the hugely popular English Premier League (EPL) as well as the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup and the NFL before McIntosh and his investors finalised a deal to add the free-to-air television station to its portfolio.
News of the agreement triggered immediate questions about the future of the EPL product, which so far this season, has only been available on VertiCast's CSport and CSport2 online and mobile-based platforms.
McIntosh, speaking to the Jamaica Observer, made it clear that CVM-TV will not be transformed into a sports-only station, but will benefit from immediate technical and programming enhancements, which he is certain will add value and opportunities to the sports media space.
"We see this as a significant positive as we expect to twin popular international content with local content to leverage the audiences across both [platforms]," said McIntosh.
VertiCast acquired CVM-TV and its cable channel CVM Plus from Michael Lee-Chin's AIC Barbados Limited, which has owned the television station since 2006.
"Our mantra is prosperitas cum curitate which means 'doing well by doing good'. CVM-TV is an essential part of the fabric of Jamaica and we have been privileged to steward it over these past several years. We believe VertiCast is the perfect fit to carry on CVM's expansion regionally," said Lee-Chin in a media release.
CVM-TV, Jamaica's second-largest television station, began operation in 1993 and broadcasts 24 hours of high-definition news, sports, and entertainment content. The company has, however, lagged behind its competition, Television Jamaica, in terms of market share and has also struggled with debt over the years.
McIntosh made it clear that while viewers can expect major changes to the company's offerings, its programming will operate on a general entertainment model with content generation being a crucial part of its approach.
"CVM will not become CVM Sports. It will remain and will become a strong general entertainment channel in Jamaica with a strong mix of quality news, sport, and general entertainment," said McIntosh.
"We are still integrating and assessing the programming and operations at CVM. VertiCast has strong content that can be used on CVM. That decision will come once we have determined the best channel fit for our content," McIntosh added.
"VertiCast's acquisition of CVM-TV is another step in our strategic vision to create a truly regional media company with unprecedented regional and intra-island reach. CVM-TV creates significant operational and strategic value for VertiCast, allowing centralised distribution of multiple channels over-the-air, on cable television and through its recently launched app. In the coming days, we will announce immediate, unprecedented enhancements to CVM-TV programming," said McIntosh.
Meanwhile, Gary Allen, CEO of RJRGLEANER Communications Group, the parent company of Television Jamaica, says the development will have a positive impact on the local media industry.
"I have seen the announcements and believe that healthy competition in the media marketplace is good for the industry and the consumers. I do not have information that would allow me to do more than wish our competitors well as we all seek to serve the public better," said Allen, in response to questions from the Jamaica Observer.
McIntosh has publicly stated his company's willingness to work with other players in the media industry and has called for greater collaboration between entities.