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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » JAMAICA’S LONG-RUNNING TV-SOAP OPERA “ROYAL PALM ESTATE/THE BLACKBURNS” COMES TO AN END!

JAMAICA’S LONG-RUNNING TV-SOAP OPERA “ROYAL PALM ESTATE/THE BLACKBURNS” COMES TO AN END!

By Richard Johnson—

RoyalPalmEstateTheBlackburns

AFTER a 21-year run, the Royal Palm Estate train may be coming to a halt.

Lennie Little-White, executive producer of the popular soap opera, blames the pending stoppage on economics.

“What really pushed us over the brink is the increased fees we must pay to CVM (Television) to broadcast the show. Because of the declining viewership in local TV, sponsors are not supportive anymore,” said Little-White.

Little-White made the disclosure Sunday at a function to recognise cast and crew of Royal Palm Estate/The Blackburns, who had worked for 10 years or more on the shows.

Among those receiving legend awards were actors Beth Hyde, Munair Zacca, Bobby Smith, Michael Nicholson and Carol Campbell. Sound and lighting technician Tebel Largie and editor Radcliffe McBean were among the crew recognised.

Royal Palm Estate and The Blackburns focus on the lives of residents on a modern-day estate. The pilot for the programme was shot in 1991 and officially aired on CVM in 1994. The original cast included Reggie Carter, Cyrene Tomlinson and John Jones, who have all since died.

Little-White addressed the challenges he faced.

Producer Lennie Little-White

Producer Lennie Little-White

“The landscape at CVM TV has changed. Even though I am still a shareholder, there was no benevolence and I was paying the station more than I was earning. It was just not feasible anymore. Now, we will also have to try to find a new home whether it is on cable, another station or the Internet,” he said.

Little-White noted that the Jamaican television audience has become very sophisticated with the proliferation of cable television. They are watching American series such as Empire and Scandal, and while local producers would like to produce similar programmes, the resources are simply not available.

“The television stations helped to kill the programme,” said Little-White. “They did not show any interest in the programme in order to help build awareness. Right now, there is no product on local television which shows off our local actors, but we just have to be realistic… Royal Palm Estate went on air in 1994 and has showcased over 200 actors. Nothing in the history of Jamaican television has done that,” he continued.

The season finale of The Blackburns of Royal Palm Estate, a spin-off of Royal Palm Estate, aired Sunday.

CVM-TV

Little-White rubbished the notion that the lack of sponsorship was related to the ‘Outameni’ controversy.

“No correlation between both. Two separate companies. The current season of the show was in the can long before the brouhaha started in late-October,” he said.

Owned by Little-White, Outameni is an entertainment/tour business in Trelawny. In 2013, the government, through the National Housing Trust (NHT), bought the entity in what was seen as a bailout.

The auditor general, however ruled that the NHT’s purchase was a buyout of a bad debt owed by the owners of the property to a local merchant bank.

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