TVJ hits canvas after Axeman’s jab
The story is been widely discussed by the Jamaican public. WBA world featherweight champion, Nicholas Walters, was scheduled to do a recorded interview for TVJ's 'Eye on Sports' at 2 p.m. a few days ago. The interview didn't happen, and the nation was informed, through various channels of the RJR Group, that Nicholas backed out on the scheduled arrangement at the eleventh hour after his request for accommodation and $10,000 was not met.
The responses initially ranged from Nicholas get "hype", to TVJ being too stingy, depending on who you talked to. When I first heard, I was shocked. Ten thousand dollars is "chump change" for a man of Nicholas' calibre. Indeed, 10 grand should have been petty cash for TVJ as well.
I spoke to both Nicholas's manager-father, Job, as well as Patrick Anderson, who runs the TVJ Sports Department. According to Job, Nicholas, who lives in western Jamaica, was overnighting in Kingston as a guest of Supreme Promotions, for the launch of Sting. He was to check out of the hotel he was staying at 12 p.m. the following day, which happened to be the day of the TVJ interview.
If he stayed the extra two hours to wait for the TV interview, he would be charged for another 24 hours, as most hotels have a checkout time at 12 p.m. Job says he made this known to TVJ and asked that the media house arrange accommodation to stay for the day of the interview, or at least provide the $10,000 for them to pay for their own accommodation.
Patrick told me that he and, by extension, TVJ had nothing in principle against a request for accommodation, and indeed for the $10,000 request, but he said the request came too close to the scheduled interview for him to do anything about it. The bottom line is that the interview was not done. Both sides had a genuine case, and I can understand why both operated the way they did.
That, then, should have been the end of that, but the issue has dragged on. TVJ has taken some heavy flak in many quarters for making all this public. One can understand the public criticism. The nation never had to know why the interview with Nicholas did not happen. I have been in media for two decades and inevitably, guests will not show up for scheduled programmes for one reason or other. It's one of the occupational hazards.
At times, the reasons given are frivolous, but always a simple "so and so couldn't show for personal reasons" would always suffice. By choosing to make this issue public, it is hard for TVJ to explain to the common man that it wasn't trying to embarrass Nicholas Walters.
If that was the aim, and I'm emphasising 'if', then by and large, such an intention has backfired. The irony is that it is TVJ that has come out losing by a majority decision in this case. All judges' cards have revealed that Nicholas was the winner here.
Many can understand why TVJ wouldn't honour Nicholas' request at the last minute, but I haven't yet spoken to anyone who feels that TVJ did the right thing by coming public with this story. People have suggested on my radio show that TVJ blundered from the outset when the interview was being arranged, because it should have asked about the boxer's accommodation from then. On that I have to defend my media colleagues. It's just not the done thing. I have been arranging media interviews with Jamaican sports stars for 20 years, and if they don't make accommodation an issue, I don't.
Nicholas and his management team, then, must take blame for not insisting on accommodation from the outset. Whether TVJ could have accommodated them so late is something that, in hindsight, I think they should have done. Ten thousand dollars should never have stopped what was a potentially big interview that would have promoted the station in no uncertain way. This might have been a case of penny wise and pound foolish.
The nation is now watching to see who will win the RJR Sports Foundation Sportsman of the Year award. Nicholas, at this stage, is the favourite to lift the crown. If he doesn't, TVJ will receive a backlash that would reverberate around the entire nation.
n Orville Higgins is a sports journalist and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN FM. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.