Conan O’Brien, David Ellis, Harlequin Hotels – About manufacturing public perceptions for secret payments

Bajan Journalist David Ellis took secret payments from Harlequin

Once again former CBC news anchor Ian Bourne (photo right) is slamming the news media – this time for manufacturing public perceptions. We at BFP publicly disagree with Bourne on many issues but we’ll have to agree with his post Late Night Talk Show Host Conan O’Brien exposes ‘canned news’ media – for it is all “canned”. (The video Ian links to is well worth your time. We laughed at first… then we became angry.)

We’ve never for a moment doubted Ian’s integrity to bringing the truth as he sees it to the public. The “as he sees it” is important because Ian makes no pretense: what he reports is reported as coming to you from Ian Bourne and the Bajan Reporter.

Right or wrong, wild or conservative… or unsure – it’s likely that Bourne will let you know the credibility of his sources, how sure he is of what he is reporting and most important: what is opinion and what is fact backed by research and sources. He might report something even if the sources are weak, but he’ll let you know that the sources are weak.

What more can we ask from our news reporters?

We at BFP have said time and time again – “Don’t believe a word we say. Do your own research. Test us. Confront us. Check our sources and the facts where you can and where you can’t – express doubt about our reporting, our motives, our sources.”

You see, we’re not the CBC, ABC, NBC, BBC or CNN. We encourage our readers to call us liars, well-meaning idiots or fools. We want folks to think for themselves. Quite often we are so wrong about something and our readers slap us upside the head and publicly call us out. We let those comments stand, for as we’ve said from day one: this isn’t our blog… Barbados Free Press is owned by the readers.

We have our agendas and we wear them on our sleeves: Integrity Legislation, expose corruption, do what we can for the environment, empower the ordinary Bajan to speak the truth without fear. Ridicule the corrupt and the elites who forgot the ordinary Bajan. Preserve individual freedoms and rights. Resist fascism in all forms. Get pissed on Friday afternoon and laid on Saturday night.

And we tell our readers to question us, our sources, our motives, our agendas, our writings and opinions.

That’s what BFP is all about. We have no credibility. We’re anonymous for God’s sake! But if we had public credibility as real journalists, as a real news outlet, and we sought to capitalize on that credibility and took secret payments… what then?

Ian Bourne and BFP: Fans of David Ellis

Let it be known that Ian Bourne is a fan of Bajan journalist David Ellis (Photo left). That is obvious from the article at Bajan Reporter Barbados lacks proper teeth to prevent future Madoff’s. We at Barbados Free Press are also fans of Davie Ellis. We’ve supported Mr. Ellis publicly on many occasions.

But we’ve come across something that causes us some concern. It appears that David Ellis was taking money from Harlequin to spin the news in Harlequin’s favour at the same time that he was broadcasting news to the public.

Secret money…

Folks: if I run a radio station and I do commercials for Toyota automobiles or KFC, my listeners know that when I do car reviews or say I like KFC fried chicken (and I do!) that Toyota and KFC cut cheques to me every month. That’s okay if folks know about that.

But Harlequin Hotels paid David Ellis to spin the news and we didn’t know about those secret payments. I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.

What say all?



Harlequin Hotels and Resorts is a new company embarking on an ambitious programme of resort development at a time of deep economic recession in the UK and other of the source markets for tourism in Barbados and the Caribbean. It is therefore presented with a task of presenting itself as a viable and credible entity in an environment of some doubt about the capacity of previous firms to complete projects in Barbados because of the inability to access credit.

ELLIS ASSOCIATES INC. proposes to assist in minimizing these risks and enhancing the Harlequin image in Barbados and the wider Caribbean market. The immediate requirement is to create an environment that’s receptive to the establishment of its proposed resort at Merricks in St. Phillip, and to demonstrate that it has the capability to deliver across the Caribbean region in a timely and efficient manner. The key messages ought to be Harlequin’s contribution to job creation, its impact on the generating of foreign exchange and its role as a good corporate citizen and partner in the community.


The Merricks Development comes against a background of much political debate in Barbados about the sale of land to foreigners, the impact this has on the price of local land and a fear of tourism development on the East Coast of Barbados that is similar to that of the West Coast where the sea has been blocked from view and Barbadians have complained about access to their beaches and tourism development on the East Coast. Though Merricks is on the South East coast, one must anticipate the criticism that it represents an encroachment on the East Coast and may be projected as a political about face by the current administration which has promised that the East Coast will be reserved for Barbadians.

    Very little is known about Harlequin as a company. There is no easily accessible information on the principals involved in this company, creating an environment for doubt, suspicion and rumour.

    While Buccament Bay in St. Vincent is progressing well, none of Harlequin’s projects has yet been completed

    The information out of the UK concerning this company has been negative so far; we are yet to see one positive story coming out of the British press

    The Merricks proposal faces a number of difficulties as identified at the October town meeting including:- 1.    The shortage of water in the area 2.    Environmental concerns

3.    Night fishing 4.    Access to the Beach 5.    The single access to the project 6.    The anticipated increase in property taxes of surrounding Merricks residents

7.    Noise and dust control from the project 8. The development’s conflict with the designation of Merricks as a residential area in

the Physical Development Plan 9.    Maintaining the line of sight for residents


1.    Political and community support for any project with the potential to stimulate job creation and generate foreign exchange

2.    The fact that the project can further open up tourism in the south east corner of Barbados 3.    The potential for twinning Merricks with other Harlequin projects in the Caribbean 4.    The progress of Buccament Bay in St. Vincent is clear evidence that the company is

delivering on its promise 5.    The fact that over 300 Barbadians are currently employed on the Buccament Bay project

The PR Strategy:

Our first objective is to gain Planning permission for the Merricks project, and this we requires a PR exercise over the next six to eight weeks that will involve the following strategies by our company:-

    Media management – providing timely and relevant material to the media     Identify the relevant publics, providing feedback to and from the client     Make the public aware of Harlequin’s best practices     Monitor the local, regional and international media to intercept information which may be

harmful to the brand.     Work with all relevant parties to quickly identify and avoid emerging domestic threats to

the Merricks project     Promote to the various publics the best practices of Harlequin and Cellate through the

highlighting of Buccament Bay and Buckley Meadows     Set up channels of access with various ministries and departments of government     Work to have government ministers report on the relevant projects using the media     Identify community concerns and put measures in place to address such concerns where

possible     Advise on approaches to communicating with the media and general public to achieve the

greatest support for the company and its local and regional projects.     Recommend a PR strategy beyond this initial 8 week period     Establishing in the minds of the public the distinction between Harlequin and Cellate


1.    In targeting the community we will see to establish contact with key community representatives in Merricks and its environs. This is to foster good communication between the community ahd the Harlequin.

2. Produce a special radio/internet feature highlighting the progress of the Buccament Bay project to show the progress of that project and the potential of Merricks

3.    Produce a special radion feature on the Buckley Meadows project

4.    One cocktail gathering of interested parties to create a knowledge of the project 5.    Produce television feature of Baccament Bay

FEES: $25,000.00 mobilisation fee

BUCCAMENT BAY PROJECT PROPOSAL SYNOPSIS: We take a tour of Baccament Bay talking to some of the key people involved to underscore the following:-

   

It’s progress The significance to St. Vincent The commitment of the developers The job opportunities for Barbadians and others in the region

METHOD: 6 five minute features adjacent to the main newscast on Voice of Barbados at 5:50 pm January 11-16 the week leading up to the feature on Sunday, January 17th at 3 p.m A 45 minute Feature on the Sunday afternoon to achieve the above mentioned objectives AIRTIME COST: $12,000.00 PRODUCTION COSTS: $6,000.00

BUCKLEY MEADOWS PROJECT PROPOSAL SYNOPSIS: We hear from the original and current developers, and most of all the home owners as they articulate the positive change. METHOD: 6 five minute features adjacent to the main newscast on Voice of Barbados at 5:50 pm from Jaunary 11-16 A 45 minutes features on the Sunday, January 17 at 3 pm on Voice of Barbados AIRTIME COST: $12,000.00 PRODUCTION COST: $6,000.00

Any other projects will be done on a project by project basis with the approval of the client.

… The above document supplied by our friends at


Filed under Barbados, Ethics, Freedom Of The Press

11 responses to “Conan O’Brien, David Ellis, Harlequin Hotels – About manufacturing public perceptions for secret payments

  1. 129

    This made for some interesting reading about a man who purports to be the epitome of ethical journalism in Barbados. Can you trust now anything that comes out of the spin factory on River Road? Now that he has gone and set up shop in the region with this OCM Network thing that they are doing, makes you wonder about them.
    Having memories of the news of the world saga…

  2. Green Monkey

    Doesn’t it fall under that “conflict of interest” thingy? I know it’s a concept some otherwise smart and intelligent people seem to have a hard time grasping, especially when they stand to profit handsomely from not understanding it. And don’t fool wunna head, it’s not just Bajan politicians and journalists-cum-PR-agents who seem to have a peculiar inability to spot a situation in which a conflict of interest might arise.

    Questioning Pelosi: Steve Kroft heads to D.C.

    “Nobody would talk to us.” That’s what 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft says happened when he tried to get members of Congress to talk about “insider trading” on Capitol Hill.

    It turns out that it is not illegal for member of Congress to make stock trades using inside information they learn while working on legislation, and Steve had some questions about some specific stock trades.

    Since nobody involved would give him an interview, Steve had to find other ways to get some answers. As you’ll see on Overtime this week, Steve looked for some lawmakers at their homes, attempted to track others down in their offices, and finally ended up asking questions at press conferences held by Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner.

    More at link below, including video of US congresswoman Nancy Pelosi looking shocked that anyone could suggest in public that an important and altruistic, self-sacrificing, political personage such as herself could possibly be involved in a conflict of interest.

  3. Green Monkey

    Full CBS 60 MInutes report on insider trading by US politicians here:;topnews

  4. Sunshine Sunny Shine

    I really enjoyed that 60 min presentation. Imagine if we had this type of investigative journalism with the type of resources available to combat the repurcussions that would come from the people to whom the investigation is conducted on. I tell you so much of the covert dirty deals that go on would expose a lot of the ugly that is camouflage by the well nourish faces that is our intellectuals in Barbados.

    I always felt that David Ellis was part of the Do Doo. But why should he not be others are doing it.

  5. 178

    Of course DE is part of it – in fact he is knee-deep in it – maybe he’s just been able to hide it better than others. He talks the talk on Brass Tacks but he wouldn’t kow ethics if they invited him to dinner, introduced themselves and he proposed a media campaign to promote them. The fact is that he’s not even trained as a journalist so lacks credibility and is therefore in no position to ‘represent’ the profession anyway. People like him make me sick…

  6. WordSong

    The media in Barbados stinks – is up to its neck in do doo. Period. that’s why these blogs are so popular. As for the guys at Ellis Island, I have never been fooled by their sophistry and I’m not surprised. I would be surprised if J Gittens ended up in a similar pool of sh… but the man from Ellis Island? nah!!

  7. Corporate Governance

    Being able to subcontract work to yourself and get the company to pay you for the work that you are paid to do, what is so wrong with that? Looks like the company either allows this to happen or doesn’t have a clue what is going on. I would guess the former. It does not look good but is it legal? Where is the corporate governance.

    Corporate governance at companys do differ. But then again this forum is not mainstream and is treated like another rag, but you do learn alot here.

  8. Pingback: Harlequin Hotels and Resorts responds to Barbados Free Press | Barbados Free Press

  9. Anonymous

    Clear conflict of interest and it does appear that Vic Fernandes would have to be aware, for in case you missed it, there was $36 000 in it for StarCom, based on the projected on air advertising.

    With OCM now in existence, imagine the $$$$ that could be made if this model was applied to all major developments proposed in the markets that take the Caribbean Super Station!!!

    Add the PR expertise available to controversial mergers or circumstances that occur almost daily across the region and I think I want piece of this action!!!

  10. Due Diligence

    Just stumbled on this old post.

    In hindsight, it seems that David Ellis’s PR strategy to get Planning approval for the Merricks project worked.

    What was missing was Government due diligence to establish the financial bona fides of Harlequin/Ames ability to complete the project or determine it if it was the ponzi scheme it has turned out to be.

    DD wonders if Ellis/Starcom got paid for any advertising/PR work they may have run for Harlequin.

  11. Mr A Tyler

    We are onto him now don’t worry