25.04.2008 -

Media Archives in the Caribbean Receive Boost through IPDC Support

Four media archives in Barbados and St Kitts and Nevis are now undergoing face-lifts with the implementation of digitisation and preservation projects supported by UNESCO's International Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC). The projects involve the training of media professionals and workers and upgrading of equipment.

In Barbados the core media content, audio and video, relating to national memory is housed in the archives of the <a href="http://www.cbc.bb/">Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC)</a> and the <a href="http://www.barbados.gov.bb/bgis.htm">Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS)</a>. According to CBC, before IPDC support the potential for use of this content for national development was unrealised; much of the material was uncatalogued; access was mainly institutional or non-existent due to fragility or rarity. These collections were further threatened by technological obsolescence as well as chemical and physical degradation.


Under this project a prototype national electronic audiovisual databank is being developed. Already thirty media professionals and workers from CBC, BGIS and other media organisation in Barbados have been trained in digital archiving and the management of digital content. The organisations have recognised the mammoth task they have undertaken and that the digitisation process has only just begun. Significant Government support has therefore been enlisted.


In St Kitts and Nevis, ZIZ Television (ZBC) is the only local television station. The St Kitts Government Information Service (SKGIS) operates through a cable channel. Like many other media organisation in the region ZBC faced the challenge of outdated equipment dating back to over 15 years and a media library with twenty years of video material stored on antiquated analogue/VHS tapes; making the material largely inaccessible and threatening the very preservation of the footage.


Twenty media professionals and workers from ZBC, SKGIS and other media organisation in St. Kitts have been trained in digital archiving and the management of digital content. ZBC has prioritised its content and have commenced the digitisation of valuable historical content such as: the funeral service of Robert L. Bradshaw, the independence state service of 1983, History in Flames: Fire Destruction of Original Court House and Swearing of Pam Administration in 1983.


The Caribbean media are placing increasing emphasis and priority on indigenous programming, some of which is drawn from the audiovisual collections of media organisations. UNESCO recognises that the media of the region have a critical role to play in access to information, preserving and disseminating the cultures of the region while promoting cultural diversity and integration in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) was established in 1963 as the first wireless radio station in Barbados. In 1964, the television division was added. The Corporation's collection consists of over 400 hours of film, 20,000 video recordings and about 15, 000 audio recordings, and approximately 300 of photographic prints of historic views of Barbados.


The Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS) was established in 1958. The collection of the BGIS represents a significant portion of the nation's audiovisual history. It consists of audio recordings of interviews and speeches of local personalities and statements by government officials, the films produced for the Government's Public Education Programme on topics including housing, agriculture, education, health and government work programmes as well as materials relating to the West Indies Federation, the inventory of the Mobile Cinema a public education tool used before the advent of television in Barbados.


ZBC was established in 1974. As the only television station in Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, it has collected footage for more than twenty of its thirty-four years of existence which cannot be found anywhere else. This content is considered priceless and is often sought after by Government agencies as well as the general public.

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