TSTT drops Machel
By Joan Rampersad Thursday, January 31 2013
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Soca child: A little boy looks curiously on as the large crowd waves for artistes who took part in bmobile's Soca in bSquare concert at Woodford Squar...
Management at the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (TSTT), failed to act on an instruction from its board of directors, led by former Police Commissioner Everald Snaggs, to cut sponsorship ties with soca star Machel Montano immediately after he was convicted of five criminal charges last December, Newsday sources disclosed yesterday.
It was only after the board met last week and again gave the directive to TSTT management that the company, which is majority owned by the State, withdrew its sponsorship of the soca star.
“TSTT wishes to advise at this time that it is suspending all existing arrangements with Machel Montano and the company,” the company said in an emailed release yesterday.
Montano has been endorsing TSTT’s bmobile brand for close to eight years, as TSTT, in turn, has made significant investments in the reigning Soca Monarch and Road March champ’s concerts.
On December 10, 2012, Magistrate Maureen Babo-olal-Gafoor found Montano guilty of five criminal charges of assault and using obscene language during a fracas five years ago, outside the Zen nightclub in Port-of-Spain.
Newsday sources said TSTT management was reluctant to suspend ties with the entertainer after the verdict, although they were told to do so by the board.
TSTT even continued to promote Montano among its main entertainment endor-
sers, and had scheduled him to perform in a mid-day show billed “Powder Wednesday” as part of its week- long Soca in bSquare concerts at Woodford Square, Port-of-Spain.
However, new advertisements yesterday announced that the line-up had been changed to feature KI & JMC 3Veni, Prophet Benjamin, Swappi, 5 star Akil, Cassie and Lyrikal, all backed by The Unit Band in a show renamed “Imagine Wednes-
TSTT’s actions come after calls were made by interest groups for the company to stop sponsoring Montano with taxpayers’ money because of his conviction.
Also convicted last December was Montano’s bandmate and songwriting partner Kernel Roberts, son of late calypso icon Aldwyn “Lord Kitchener” Roberts, who was found guilty of two assault charges.
Montano and Roberts were due to be sentenced on January 17, but the matter was adjourned to after Carnival on February 25.
When contacted yesterday, Snaggs, TSTT’s chairman would only confirm the company had suspended its arrangements with Montano, but declined to state when the decision was taken, and the reasons.
All he would state was that the company was trying to manage information going out to the public and had authorised Head of Public Relations & External Affairs, Camille Salandy to be the only one to comment on the company’s behalf.
When contacted, Salandy referred to the issued statement then said, “I can’t give anything more than what I am authorised to say.”
But sources said following the board’s latest instructions, TSTT management called in Montano and informed him of the decision.
In its release, TSTT reiterated that it is a long-standing supporter of the nation’s culture.
Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions on social media to TSTT’s dropping Montano from its sponsorship, with some commending the company for its decision, while the star’s fans sided with him. Montano’s mother and manager Liz Montano declined comment on the issue yesterday, referring questions to the entertainer who did not return calls.
Montano still has a commercial deal with State-owned airline, Caribbean Airlines Ltd which is a sponsor of his “Machel Monday” concert.