Rules laid down for new radio stations – for now

A battle for the airwaves has led St Helena Government to lay down temporary rules on how radio licences should be granted.

It says it would be unfair to make applicants wait for a fully-researched policy to be in place.

Two applications have been received, including one from Saint FM owner Mike Olsson, who wants to set up new stations in competition with the three planned by the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation (SHBC).

Neither will have to pay, because no charges were in place when they applied. That will change in future because radio frequencies are valuable assets, in the same way land and buildings are, says SHG.

No further applications will be considered until a permanent policy is in place.

Councillors had already agreed to fund the SHBC stations – for which no launch date has been given.

But then Mike Olsson made an unexpected move to launch new stations under the banner of St Helena Media Productions, the company that owns Saint FM and the St Helena Independent.

His request for a licence was put on hold at the 12 June 2012 executive council meeting.

If all stations go on air, the island could have six or seven radio stations serving a population that currently stands at just 4,000 people.

This year Saint FM began sharing material with its long-standing rival, Radio St Helena, which is due to be closed when the new SHBC services go on air. In late July 2012, though, Radio St Helena began carrying news bulletins compiled by SHBC.

The interim rules, issued by Gina Benjamin, the clerk of councils, say operators will not be able to keep hold of “spare” frequencies.

Councillors had noted that Saint FM was not using all the frequences it had been given, but Mike said they were in his own name and not suitable for island-wide broadcasting.

The government has not disclosed when it is likely to decide whether all the proposed new stations can go on air.

SEE ALSO:
Bulletins go live – before radio switch-on
Media saga takes new twist as Mike plans more radio stations
Media

LINKS:
Saint FM
St Helena Broadcasting Corporation
Radio St Helena – history

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