Marcia Forbes - Biography
Forbes the Business Woman
Dr. Marcia Forbes is co-owner and Executive Chairperson of Phase Three Productions Limited, a company which stands as one of the leading privately owned, full-service, multi-media television production entities in the Anglophone Caribbean. In addition to offering services in all aspects of content creation, transmission and display,
Phase Three owns a fleet of production vehicles, including two state-of–the-art fully digital, high definition television field production units. The company services local, regional and international clients.
Phase Three celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2014. Spearheaded by Dr. Forbes, one legacy activity of that milestone was the training of thirty (30) youths in the ‘Art of Videography’. These workshops were recognized by the Governor General of Jamaica as worthy of inclusion in his ‘Possibilities Programme’. In 2015 Phase Three produced over five hundred hours of indigenous television content distributed in Jamaica via local TV/Cable stations and to the wider world by way of satellite and or live streaming.
Dr. Marcia Forbes is a communications specialist and media veteran. She is well known in Jamaica for successfully transforming the 40 year old Government-owned Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) into the privately owned Television Jamaica (TVJ), the industry leader in free-to-air television broadcasting in that island. After several years at the helm of TVJ she left to pursue a Ph.D. in communication.
Forbes the Author
Her first book, Music, Media & Adolescent Sexuality in Jamaica, which explores the influences of television on adolescents, was published in 2010 and is largely the end product of her Ph.D. thesis. That book is now recommended text for various courses at the University of the West Indies, including Gender Studies and Communication Studies. The Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) approved it as required for CAPE, Sociology. Dr. Forbes’s second book, STREAMING: Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles (2012), required or recommended for various university courses, analyses the manner in which new communication technologies, in particular mobile phones and social media, have altered lifestyles especially among youth.
Forbes the Academic
UWI Graduate & Fulbright Scholar
Marcia Forbes balances work experience with formal training. She is an extraordinary scholar. Having achieved a Bachelor’s degree with 1st class honours in mass communications from the University of the West Indies (Mona), she secured a Fulbright Scholarship to pursue a Masters Degree in the USA.
Emerson College Graduate
Majoring in global marketing, communication and advertising at the prestigious Emerson College in Boston, USA, Forbes graduated summa cum laude with straight A grades throughout her entire Master’s programme, including for all coursework. She was inducted into the National Communication Honor Society in the US, Lambda Pi Eta, by the Gamma Chapter at Emerson College.
Forbes's Ph.D. thesis explored the influence of television, music videos specifically, on adolescent sexuality in Jamaica. Her first book is largely derived from that body of work.
This hybrid business woman cum scholar has presented academic and industry-related papers at numerous regional and international conferences, including those hosted by the International Association of Media and Communication Research (IAMCR), Caribbean Studies Association (CSA), the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) and UNESCO. Participation at this level has taken her across the world including Africa, South America, North America, Europe and throughout the English and Spanish-speaking Caribbean.
In addition to her previously mentioned books, Marcia Forbes’s academic presentations, articles and speeches have been published both on and off-line. Coming out of a European Union commissioned research study, in 2004 Forbes produced a limited edition publication titled, ‘Does Watching Today’s Music Videos Influence the Sexual Behaviour of Jamaican Adolescents? Her 2006 IAMCR presentation, ‘Cable TV and the Music Videos Jamaican Adolescents Watch: Issues of Images and Identity’ was published in that organization’s conference book. Articles written by her can be accessed via the Jamaica Observer and Jamaica Gleaner newspapers (print and online) and at www.caribjournal.com
Lecturer—University of the West Indies
Almost single-handedly Marcia Forbes ran the television programme at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), UWI for an entire semester in 1996. She revised the curriculum and introduced site visits to media houses. Lisa Hannah, now Minister of Youth & Culture as well as a member of parliament in Jamaica, and Dr. Hume Johnson were students in her 1996 class. Forbes now serves as an adjunct senior lecturer at the University of the West Indies and teaches master’s level students pursuing Communication & Media Management.
Forbes the Board Director
Private Sector & Voluntary Organizations
Marcia Forbes has served on several Boards spanning the private and public sectors and voluntary organizations. She is particularly committed to the United Way of Jamaica, having served on its Board continuously for close to 20 years. She is a founding member of the Women’s Leadership Initiative, Women Business Owners Jamaica and the 51% Coalition: Women in Partnership for Development and Empowerment.
In 2016 Dr. Forbes serves on the following Boards/Steering/Executive Committees:
- IDB ConSoc - Civil Society Consulting Group of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Jamaica, 2014 - present;
- The United Way of Jamaica –Board Director, 1998 – present - Chair of the Research and Planning Committee and member of the Government & International Relations Committee;
- 51% Coalition: Women in Partnership for Development & Empowerment, 2010 - present;
- Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), Chairperson, Parenting Committee, 2015, member of the Modernization Steering Committee: Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce.
For many years she served on the Board of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (Barbados) as Vice President Television. Marcia Forbes served as well on the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (based in the UK) and on the Executive Committee of the Media Association of Jamaica. She also served on the Board of Directors of Television Jamaica.
In the public sector, Marcia Forbes has served as Chairman of the Spectrum Management Authority and on the Boards of Air Jamaica and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica. She was a member of the UNESCO Commission and Chaired its Communications Committee. She also served as Jamaica's representative to the International Programme for Development of Communication (IPDC), UNESCO.
Forbes – Awards/Recognition
2014 recognized by her Alma Mater, The Queen’s School, for outstanding achievements in the field of media.
2012 Prime Minister Simpson-Miller of Jamaica publicly recognized Dr. Forbes for her work in support of women.
2011 De Kalb County, Atlanta, Georgia, USA honoured Dr. Forbes for her use of media “as a positive tool to impact both the country and the world.”
1996 Inducted into National Honor Society, Lambda Pi Eta, Emerson College
1995 Fulbright Scholar
1993 & 1994 Dean’s Award for Excellence, University of the West Indies, Mona
1980s – Numerous Awards and recognition for academic excellence and service in various nursing training programmes, including 1985 Use of English Award, UWI and Nurse of the Year, University Hospital
The TVJ Years
No one thought anyone could do it, but she did! Marcia Forbes turned a loss-making, second place television station into the market leader by media survey as well as wide public acclaim, including the wider Caribbean. Facing down the odds, Forbes whipped the competition into submission, earning the name ‘Iron Lady of media’ by some. She adroitly used her communication and marketing acumen to rebrand and reposition what was the Government owned JBC into an exciting, agile and much admired TVJ, while displaying business savvy which drove the station to profitability.
Exclusive Broadcast Rights
Throughout her six year leadership, Television Jamaica chalked up numerous firsts. These included negotiating exclusive broadcast rights for several premier sporting events such as the West Indies Cricket Series and World Cup Football. She remembers a scheduled 6am meeting in Trinidad with Austin Jack Warner of CONCACAF, when, to beat him at his game, she arrived at 5:30am. She fondly remembers that Warner referred to her as the hardest working woman in the Caribbean.
Awards & Recognitions
Under Marcia Forbes’s leadership, Television Jamaica, received numerous awards and recognitions. None pleased her more than the 2000 Caribbean Broadcasting Union’s Award for ‘Best Broadcaster’ which named TVJ as the leading station throughout the Caribbean region. Jamaicans who watched the live broadcast from Barbados were proud of the station’s achievement. Reminiscing on the event Forbes remembers how the Barbadian women expressed support and solidarity and effused over her powerful impact.
Confident in the value of local programmes to positively position and differentiate the station, during her years at TVJ, Forbes introduced a slew of them. These included ‘News at 10’, ‘Man Talk’, ‘Cross Country with TVJ’ that morphed into an RJR Group-wide series of outdoor broadcasts and a summer entertainment package for kids called ‘Watch & Win’. She was also instrumental in the introduction of business and sports commentaries during the Prime Time News. While not on board to see the Junior Schools’ Challenge Quiz take to air, it was under her tenure that the programme was conceptualized and it was she who negotiated with the then Managing Director of the National Commercial Bank for its sponsorship. The 1st season aired within weeks of her departure.
Positioning TVJ in North America & the Caribbean
While at TVJ, Forbes ramped up the sale of programmes to North America, with over 5 hours weekly on cable TV between USA and Canada. A devout regionalist who recognized the value of integration, she ensured that Jamaican programmes were broadcast to the wider Caribbean through the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU). In 1997 she created television history by negotiating the live satellite transmission of Jamaica’s national elections to several Caribbean territories and the USA.
In a 1998 address to the Kiwanis Club of Liguanea, Marcia Forbes noted that TVJ was “committed to act as the catalyst which will work to speed up the process of Caribbean integration”. She further remarked that “we intend to act as that link which will help to bond Jamaicans and Caribbean people in the Diaspora.”
Wild Gilbert Music Video
Forbes has a vast array of TV productions to her credit, including the popular music video, ‘Wild Gilbert’, which she scripted, produced and co-directed. The music video, artfully synchronized with the song, brought laughter to the faces of those ravaged by the hurricane, although depicting scenes of the destruction left behind by Hurricane Gilbert. In the masterful style of Lloyd Lovindeer, the song-writer and singer, Jamaicans were able to ‘teck bad ting mek joke’. Wild Gilbert was awarded ‘Best Music Video’ for 1988 by the Jamaica Music Industry Awards as well as the 1990 ‘Prix Special du Jury’ by the Images Caraibes Festival in Martinique.
Clafy Comedy Series
Marcia Forbes is also to be credited for a 6 part comedy series and one hour drama, Clafy, for which she fondly recalls functioning in just about every role, including producer, talent and location scout, set designer, wardrobe mistress, gofer and marketer, just to get the series aired on television. Although heavily pirated in places such as the UK, USA and Canada, the series and the spin-off movie starring Volier Johnson along with other stalwarts such as Blacka Ellis and Marjorie Whylie, have been shown on television stations in the English-speaking Caribbean and also packaged for in-store distribution.
Health Care Professional
Having started work-life as a Registered General Nurse, something she pursued as a teenager to please her then boyfriend, now husband of close to 40 years, Marcia Forbes has never regretted her nursing days. In her view it has given her a solid foundation on which to build and works in synchrony with her communications training. She served as Ward Sister on a paediatric ward at the University Hospital of the West Indies while still in her 20s, something virtually unheard of it those days, and is a qualified Registered Midwife, Critical Care Nurse, Nurse Educator and Nurse Manager.
Throughout her nursing training Forbes excelled in all her courses, always top of the class and received numerous awards and commendations. It was while pursing training as a Nurse Educator that she was awarded the University prize for Use of English, scoring highest in this course for the entire university. In the early 1980s she was selected as Nurse of the Year for the University Hospital and recognizes that she was being groomed for nurse-leadership. But the pull of business was strong. It won out over nursing and by the mid 1980s she left nursing to work fulltime in the family’s growing television production business, Phase Three Productions Limited.
Service to Country--Permanent Secretary Forbes
Marcia Forbes describes her one year stint as a public servant in the role of Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications and later in the Ministry of Energy and Mining as a tremendous experience and one she embraces for the way it allowed her to serve her country and the valuable lessons she learnt. The relatively short time did not prevent her from being able to accomplish a great deal, including helping to drive Cabinet approval of an energy policy.
Spectrum Band Planning
Dr. Forbes cites the work she undertook to ensure the reallocation of the 2.5 GHz band entirely for wireless broadband, after an earlier Cabinet decision to the contrary, as one of her key achievements in the Ministry of Mining and Telecommunications. In doing this she pulled on international contacts, including those at IDA and SingTel in Singapore and at Ofcom in the UK, to help to support the case for exclusive assignment of this band of the electro-magnetic spectrum for wireless broadband.
Recycle Cell Phones
She believes that Jamaica will benefit immensely from her environmentally-aware suggestion regarding recycling used cell phones. Forbes is happy that Digicel moved rapidly with the suggestion and established a system for collecting these phones, shipping them overseas where they are refurbished and later sold to other parts of the world. Revenues generated from this activity go toward assisting the Jamaica Aids Support and specifically children with HIV/AIDS, the charity recommended by her to Digicel.
National Energy Policy
At the Ministry of Energy and Mining, Marcia Forbes led the team to revamp and revise the 2006 Energy Green Paper in record time and to produce the National Energy Policy 2009 – 2030.
Representing Jamaica Overseas
As Permanent Secretary, she had the honour and privilege of representing Jamaica in key negotiations/conferences including:
- The Caribbean Telecommunications Union, Barbados, September 2008, where she presented at the 19th Executive Council Meeting and the 11th General Conference of Ministers on behalf on the Minister of Mining and Telecommunications.
- Caribbean Telecommunications Organization, Trinidad, 2008, where she presented on behalf of the Minister of Mining and Telecommunications regarding telecommunications in Jamaica.
- Negotiating Team on behalf of the Government of Jamaica on bauxite/alumina industry matters—China, March 2009
- The V Ministerial Council of Energy Ministers of PetroCaribe Heads of State, St. Kitts, Nevis, June, 2009.
- The Americas Energy and Climate Symposium, Lima, Peru, June 2009, where she represented the Government and presented an update of the energy situation in Jamaica and the energy policy.
- Negotiating Team pertaining to the PetroCaribe Energy Cooperation Agreement, Venezuela, July 2009.
Strength of a Woman
Dr. Marcia Forbes is a woman with an indomitable spirit, a warm and ready gap-toothed, dimpled smile and a passion for life. Never a wall-flower, she loves to dance and doesn’t care much whether the moves are right or not. Her music choice is varied, running the gamut of jazz, the classics, soul/R&B, reggae, dancehall, soca and salsa, depending on her mood.
She loves to travel to new and exciting places with trips to Egypt, Germany, France, Singapore, China, South Africa and Suriname holding special places in her memory. Being an island-girl, her heart is, however, firmly planted in the Caribbean which she travels extensively and always thoroughly enjoys, especially sailing through the Grenadines. For her, the USA and the UK usually involve great soirees with family and friends.
Service above Self
Dr. Forbes quietly mentors young adults, sometimes without even their full awareness. She particularly enjoys helping young women to chart a productive, professional life-course and is currently watching her protégées excel in their chosen fields, two of them having completed Ph.Ds.
Marcia’s dream is to be lucky enough to have a couple of grandchildren while she is still ‘young and agile’, two books in schools and universities worldwide and enough wealth and health to live a quality life doing the things she truly enjoys, such as helping those less fortunate, travelling, collecting art and entertaining friends at home.
Dr. Marcia Forbes is an unrepentant patriot and is always eager to serve her country, Jamaica. Married with one child who is at the helm of Phase Three Productions, she has the time, experience and passion to make a difference and continues to do so.