STATE owned broadcaster TTT Limited is being criticised by some members of the Hindu community following the launch of the Sweetest 100 Days of Christmas over the weekend.
On Sunday, the company held the event at Southpark in San Fernando, to celebrate the countdown to Christmas.
Several local artistes performed. There was parang.
However, the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha’s (SDMS) secretary general Sat Maharaj said TTT Limited was insensitive to the population at large and while there are now more television and radio stations for coverage of events and other programmes, as a State-owed entity, it has failed.
Speaking to the Express via telephone on Monday, Maharaj expressed his concerns that TTT’s management was already engaged in Christmas celebrations while Divali is yet to be celebrated.
“TTT is a national television station paid for by all the people of Trinidad and Tobago. We find that they are very insensitive to the population at large. This is not a Carnival or Calypso country alone. You have other peoples living here, there are diverse groups of people living here and they must be aware and mindful that very soon we will be celebrating Divali.
We as Hindus, we are also taxpayers, we are paying for the station, and we demand that they respect us as they respect everyone else. They must be sensitive that coming up now is Divali and they should give us the same kind of coverage like everyone else,” he said.
Maharaj said that since the inception of TTT, as a member of the Hindu community, the SDMS has begged for Hindu and Indian related programmes to be aired on the national station.
However, he said this has changed over the years with newer stations and people using social media and other media platforms to spread their message.
Pundit Satyanand Maharaj also said he found it disrespectful to the Hindu community that such a launch was held by a State enterprise before Divali was celebrated.
He said that while there is no problem with Christmas and those who wish to participate, which also include the Hindu population, he was concerned that TTT only had “token programming” around the Divali period.
He said TTT’s management needed to acknowledge that Trinidad and Tobago is a plural society and more should be done to recognise all religious and cultural groups.
He said: “while we have no problem with 100 days before we celebrate Christmas, as we as Hindus do join in celebrating Christmas, it is strange that they would ignore Divali. Christmas is national (but) so too is Divali. Everyone looks forward to celebrating Divali except the management of TTT. We find that it is insulting, bias that they ignore the Hindu community except for token programming on and around Divali time. We have no problem with anyone celebrating Christmas,” he said.
But head of Swaha International, Pundit Hardeo Persad saw it differently.
“I see this as a non-issue. If they decide to do that then let them do that, it would not affect Divali whatsoever. They are a State enterprise and they could do what they want because it would not affect my Divali.
I don’t look at TTT. We have our own, IETV and I look at that. We use what technology we have to share our message and don’t have to rely on other media outlets known because we have our station that covers the things that are important to us,” he said.
The Express reached out to interim Chief Executive Officer of TTT Limited Lisa Wickham for comment regarding the concerns being made.
In a brief statement, Wickham said: “TTT Limited as a State Broadcaster remains committed to programming content that is reflective of our national diversity.”