“[…] When Andrew Mason contacted me on behalf of Vibes Radio, the Dominica-based rights holder for West Indies cricket, I suggested several St Lucia commentators to him. Mason then requested their individual email and telephone number to deal with each person directly.
“[…] It is certainly the feeling of the majority of commentators that Cricket West Indies (CWI), in the future, must carry out due diligence on all applicants for radio rights to ensure that they have the experience and the requisite personnel to handle the necessary coverage…”
In the following Letter to the Editor, veteran cricket commentator Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira complains about a frustrating year for commentators with 2021 Cricket West Indies (CWI) rights holders, Vibes Radio:
The year 2021 certainly turned out to be the worst year of my career as a commentator. Since I began in 1969 in Jamaica, never have I had to deal with such uncertainty regarding payment for work done.
For the majority of commentators, if not all, there was just a cloud of uncertainty forming from early in 2021 following the regional 50-over competition in Antigua. Information filtered through that payment for our fellow commentators who worked on the event was still outstanding.
There was also concern that some of the well-known voices in Antigua like Jack Matthew and Zorol Barthley were not included in the ABS panel for the Sri Lanka series.
When Andrew Mason contacted me on behalf of Vibes Radio, the Dominica-based rights holder for West Indies cricket, I suggested several St Lucia commentators to him. Mason then requested their individual email and telephone numbers to deal with each person directly.
I expressed concern about the unpaid commentators in Antigua and Barbuda and he informed me that the matter was being looked after. St Lucia was scheduled to host two Test matches in the South Africa series and five T20 Internationals between West Indies and Australia.
Well prior to the opening Test, I enquired from Mason what was the daily rate for commentators. His response was that he would deal with each commentator on a ‘one-to-one’ basis.
He never provided that information throughout the matches against South Africa and Australia. And, in the end, we collectively decided that we would request a daily fee of US$75—well below the normal fee for a Test match.
Incidentally, that same fee would also be requested by fellow commentators from Grenada, Guyana and Barbados.
It took us seven months–until the first two weeks of January 2022–to receive our requested payments, despite our repeated efforts to find out from Mason and the rights holders office in Roseau what was going on.
There was one email from Vibes Radio on 25 October, which apologised for the late payment and promised to rectify the issue shortly. It turned out to be an empty promise.
It is certainly the feeling of the majority of commentators that Cricket West Indies (CWI), in the future, must carry out due diligence on all applicants for radio rights to ensure that they have the experience and the requisite personnel to handle the necessary coverage.
Last October, I reached out to CWI director of commercial, marketing and communications Dominic Warne for assistance. Warne responded within hours and sympathised with us. But he said they could not intervene as it was ultimately a matter between the rights holder and its workers.
However, going forward, we feel the CWI should go further than that. The CWI must also insist that all commentators have written confirmation of their work schedule and payment rates, as the business of the 2021 season was conducted by word of mouth.
Five decades ago, commentators were comfortable when Leo De Leon, Neil Giuseppi, Dave Lamy, Lindy Delapenha, Raphie Khan, Hugh Cholmondeley, Jerry Richards and Vic Fernandes invited them to join their respective panels with a phone call. Payments were made the day after the match was completed.
That trust is obviously non-existent at the present time and therefore commentators should be properly contracted. I say this without any malice to the mentioned parties.
As I close, the five commentators of Klass FM in Jamaica are yet to be paid and their names have not been received by the rights holders in Dominica. My information is that they were never encouraged to send an invoice for work done on the two Pakistan Test matches in Jamaica.
It is now up to CWI to ensure that shoddy arrangements like these are not repeated in 2022 and beyond. Let transparency be the order of the day.
Editor’s Note: Vibes Radio CEO Lennox Lawrence and Andrew Mason were invited to respond to Perreira’s allegations. Up to the time of publication, neither had done so. However, in an earlier interview, Mason told Wired868 that he was a contracted member of Vibes Radio’s commentary team and at the time also had payments outstanding.