Change has come to Cayman’s TV network

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Cayman International Television Network has relaunched local channels Cayman 27 and Island 24 with a new look and new local shows.

The network has been broadcasting free-to-air programming to Cayman for 18 years, and has rebranded the channels to reflect its expanded output.

Cayman 27 is now Cayman Informed and has the motto ‘if it matters to you it matters to us. There is an extra half hour of news and three new talk shows. Daytime output is more information and talk-show based.

Island 24 is now Cayman Entertained. It features themed prime time shows from Monday to Friday, and broadcasts daytime soaps and game shows.

The network began in the early 1990s in partnership with WestStar with a company made up of experienced and new talent. Many staff have worked their way up over the years, explained spokesperson Vanessa Hansen.

“One of the amazing things about CITN is that it has been, and continues to be, a training ground for lots of people. A scholarship was introduced in 2007 and the first recipient, Kevin Watler, is now employed full-time as a web producer and assignment editor.”

Scholarship recipients spend time working across the TV station, often getting practical hands-on experience which would not be possible in other places, added Ms. Hansen.

“The scholars come here in their vacation and can gain reporting and production experience; obviously our hope is that they come and work here when they’re done with school. It’s an organisation that’s worked really hard to seek out and develop local talent.”

As a relatively small place, Cayman can present challenges to a news organisation. The assignment board at the station, said Ms Hansen, tells its own story.

“You look at it and one person may be covering a story then running tapes for the 6 O’Clock news, and then they will be on teleprompter duty for the programme at six thirty.

“They wear a lot of hats and you have to be willing to do so or you won’t make it here. It’s good experience; we’ve had people intern here who’ve moved onto other places and who have said the experience they’ve had here was unbelievable,” added Ms. Hansen.

This is in contrast to internships elsewhere where traditionally the intern would be set to task making coffee and in charge of photocopies, she noted.

The immediate future of CITN involves expanding Daybreak for an hour to catch the early-birds.

“Right now we catch some people in the morning as they’re getting ready to go to work but a lot may be in their cars or dropping their kids off. It will give that opportunity for people to get their morning news and weather updates before they head out on the road.”

Another focus for the station is increasing its community involvement with more and longer stories about the local community.

“With more time we can do more features and show more people, more of what is happening in that sense.”

The recent revamp of programming is testament to the commitment that the management has to keeping the station on top.

“It’s amazing that the chief executive of this company was willing to sink money and resources into this project at this [economic] time; it’s exciting and amazing.

“Things are evolving and changing and new ideas for stories and programming are always being suggested. We’re always looking into that.”

Ms. Hansen added that local filmmakers were being invited to get in touch as CITN was able and ready to provide a forum on-screen. These opportunities are unique to Cayman with the involvement between the people and the TV company paramount.

“Yes, it has to be of a certain standard but we are willing to give it airtime and want to give people more locally-produced programming,” she said.