St Helena Online


Castle dodges the facts on media name blunder

The conduct of St Helena Government has been called into question after the island’s state-funded media organisation was forced to change its name.

The Castle has refused to acknowledge that it has any case to answer, despite being given a second chance to do so.

A press release has since attempted to pass off the name change as a positive new development for “the new media organisation on St Helena” – ignoring the existence of the far newer group attempting to revive the rival Saint FM.

The government has declined to admit the change was forced on the company as a result of its own error.

It said that 13 February 2013 marked “two significant developments in the new media organisation on St Helena – the full launch of the first of three new FM radio stations, and the renaming of St Helena Broadcasting (Guaranteed) Corporation Ltd to South Atlantic Media Services Ltd (SAMS).

“SHG congratulates the staff and community-run board of SAMS [formerly SHB(G)C] for this latest milestone in serving the community.”

The name change was prompted by the island’s registrar of companies after a complaint by Mike Olsson, who registered ownership of the title St Helena Broadcasting Corporation when his new rival was being set up.

He had secured it for £50 after the government asked him to publish an advert seeking staff for the new organisation – giving its name before it had registered it.

The island’s chief magistrate, John MacRitchie, is understood to have advised that the government then breached company law by registering another name, obviously very similar.

Mike Olsson began legal action ten months later, when Mr MacRitchie took over as legal adviser to the company registrar.

He replaced Attorney General Ken Baddon – who was also the man who registering the inappropriate name. 

On 28 January, St Helena Online sent the government a series of questions about the new services.

Most of its response was published on the website on 8 February 2013, and in the St Helena Independent.

But the government was given a second chance to answer one question that it had dodged.

It had been asked:

“Please also give a comment about the fact that the “Guarantee” corporation has had to change its name, given that it was registered by the Attorney General and now the chief magistrate has advised that this should not [have] happened.”

The press office response ran to just 12 words: “Any questions about company names should be put to the organisation concerned.”

But the government is the organisation concerned.

St Helena Online then sent a courteous follow-up email, headed: “thanks – please reconsider response on one point.”

It said: “You say the issue of the company name is for the company concerned, but my question was about the actions of the Attorney General in registering the SHB(G)C – if he did indeed do so.

“Given that he would have been acting in his SHG capacity, it is appropriate to put the question to SHG. I therefore ask you to reconsider your response.”

A response was received, confirming that the Attorney General had registered the company name. This was a matter of public record, it said.

But the government still failed to acknowledge that a mistake had been made, or offer any explanation or apology.

Mike Olsson said: “I cannot help feeling sorry for the ‘Guarantee Corporation’ people, who either did not know about this, or were told that everything was hunky dory.”

  • Even after the St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Company changed its name in late January 2013, it continued to operate in public under the contested name for another four weeks. It eventually announced the change to South Atlantic Media Services on its website – which was still headed with the old name. By 17 February 2013, the website was still published under the title owned by Mike Olsson, and still under the address “”.

(This story was briefly taken down when it was discovered that St Helena Government had not failed to respond to a request to reconsider its response. However, the response given did not alter the broad thrust of the story).

The truth: how Mike O came to own his rival’s name

The media organisation set up by St Helena Government has had to change its name from St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation because it was too similar to one owned by its rival – the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation. In a breathtaking swerve, The Castle has blamed “another party, for reasons unknown, pre-registering a company name virtually identical to SHB(G)C’s”. In fact, it was The Castle that registered a company name virtually identical to the SHBC’s. MIKE OLSSON, owner of Saint FM and the SHBC name, reveals how the government mishandled the setting up of the media organisation from its very early days. 

In June-July 2011 there were negotiations between SHG and Saint FM.  The original plan was to buy Saint FM and use the trade name and equipment in the government’s new media.

This fell through as the SHG bid was unrealistic in monetary terms and took no consideration to the staff in Saint FM. I did not at the time know what they should call their new media organisation.

In August 2011, a job advert was submitted to the St Helena Independent for St Helena Broadcasting Corporation Ltd, abbreviated to SHBC. My journalistic curiosity led me to go over to the company registry to check the records. I was interested in who the directors were and what their articles of association looked like. This information is in the public domain.

To my astonishment there were no records. They had not registered it before they issued the advert. This is especially peculiar as they were advertising it as “Corporation” and “Ltd”, which you can’t do if it is not incorporated.

As we were in negotiations about the future media, I thought it could be worth £50 to register St Helena Broadcasting Corporation (SHBC) Ltd. I did this the same day.  After a couple of days I received the incorporation certificate.

I knew that the legal advisor to the Company Registry – the Attorney General, Ken Baddon – had seen my application. There was not much he could do about it. He couldn’t stop my registration.

Only a few days later, Ken Baddon registered St Helena Broadcasting Corporation (Guarantee) Ltd on behalf of the new organisation. He approved it himself.

Anybody with any knowledge about corporation matters would know that this was wrong.  The two names are far too similar and would lead to confusion. Why Ken did this is beyond me. It was clumsy. I did not jump up and down about it but decided to bide my time.

In a second round of negotiations between SHG and Saint FM in August, SHG offered to buy my company, St Helena Broadcasting Corporation Ltd, together with Saint FM. These negotiations subsequently broke down as well.

By offering to buy SHBC, SHG had, in writing, recognised my right to the name. I continued to wait.

As the Attorney General was the legal advisor to the Company Registrar, I realised that the situation was a bit complicated as Ken Baddon had also registered the “Guarantee Corporation”. He would hardly give advice against himself.

Through another matter in November 2012, I was told that the Chief Magistrate, John MacRichie, was now legal advisor to the Company Registrar, and I brought the matter to him. The timing was also right as the “Guarantee Corporation” was preparing to go on air.

In the first days of January this year (2013), the matter was sorted.  The Chief Magistrate gave an initial view on the matter which was, not surprisingly, very favourable to me. A copy of this advice was sent to the “Guarantee Corporation” for comment.

Terry Richards, the chairman of the “Guarantee Corporation”, saw that he would lose the battle and gave in immediately.

In 2011, the Attorney General had pushed through an amendment to the Companies Ordinance, saying that “by title of his office, acting on behalf of Her Majesty”, he could incorporate a company.

This was made to allow him to register the government media.

Already in the same ordinance was the following:

“212. (1) The Registrar of Companies is, under the general supervision of the Attorney General, responsible for the administration of this Ordinance.”

It is absolutely fabulous that the Attorney General can register any company on behalf of SHG, and then scrutinise the application himself. Colonialism is wonderful.

NOTE: As reported, St Helena Government has twice been given the opportunity to say that it was not the Attorney General that registered the SHB(G)C name improperly. In the absence of any denial, St Helena Online may reasonably assume that he was indeed responsible.

Situation? What situation? Castle untroubled by radio silence

The lack of a fully-functioning radio station on St Helena has been met with unconcern by the island’s government.

In an echo of the “Crisis? What crisis?” headline in the UK’s Winter of Discontent in the 1970s, it said there was “no situation” to be concerned about.

It closed Radio St Helena on Christmas Day 2012, even though three replacement stations were not yet ready to go live, as had been expected.

A government statement before Christmas said the independent new stations it was funding would go live some time in January. By the beginning of February, only one of the three channels was active, with no programme presenters.

It was transmitting a mix of music, news, extended interviews and a relay of the BBC World Service.

On 31 January 2013, The Sentinel newspaper gave a candid report on the technical problems holding up the launch of its broadcasting operation – three days after St Helena Online asked for an explanation.

They included problems sending a signal from Jamestown to High Knoll, and delays in the complex task of setting up the computerised play-out system – without the training usually given by the supplier. New parts to solve antenna problems missed a sailing of the RMS St Helena. Studio cubicles had yet to be sound-proofed.

St Helena Online editor Simon Pipe (who is in the UK) also sent an email asking for the government’s position on the outcome of its investment, and received the following responses.

St Helena Online: It’s now been more than a month since Radio St Helena closed down and still no sign nor sound of the new SHBC radio service. Whilst I recognise that the SHBC is a private organisation, nonetheless I think the situation is now a matter of public concern.

 SHG: You are incorrect.  One radio channel (of the three) has been established and is up and running.  A mix of music, the World Service and five news bulletins each day, with hosted services beginning this week – is broadcasting.  As you are not on Island, you may have missed this.

Could you say whether SHG has a position on the lack of a radio station?

See answer above.

Is it doing anything to resolve the situation?

See answer above

Have you been kept informed of developments? Can you say what the difficulties are?

Yes on the first point. No doubt Darrin [Henry, the SHBC chief executive] will be letting you know.

What is SHG’s view of the fact that the public has not been kept informed about the timetable for the new stations going on air, given that they are publicly funded? (Note: this question was sent before The Sentinel explained the situation).

An announcement accompanies every news bulletin, stating what information can be broadcast (public service news) and the state of play regarding the new services.

If the situation continues, would SHG considering intervening, by reviving Radio St Helena?

No – there is no ‘situation’.

Alternatively, would SHG be willing to allow the urgent relaunch of Saint FM by the proposed new media charity, without waiting for the 5 February ExCo meeting?

Saint FM voluntarily closed and its Licence automatically lapsed (this is a condition of the Licence). The application by its charitable successor will be treated in the same way as any other application would be, due process being observed.

Given that SHG has funded the new service, is it satisfied with it? Does it have any mechanism in place to monitor its performance?

The new media organisation is run independently by its own Board.  SHG’s connection extends no further than reducing its subsidy over time.

  • An application by a new charitable organisation to re-launch Saint FM was not included on the agenda for the executive council meeting on 5 February.  However, Governor Mark Capes reported that councillors had asked about it and were told that a special Exco meeting to consider it would be held on Monday 11 February.

Mishievous Mike advertises ‘rival’ for sale – and it’s not a joke

shbc Mike Olsson, who closed his Saint FM radio station on 21 December 2012, has advertised the station for sale – but made it look as if it’s his government-funded rival that’s on the market.

But he’s entitled to do just that – because he’s the legal owner of the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation.

It’s just that it’s not the same St Helena Broadcasting Corporation as the one that’s due to launch three new radio stations in January.

When it was first announced that the new corporation would be set up, Mike rushed out and legally registered the proposed name for himself.

As a result, the SHBC had to be formally named the St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation instead. But it still calls itself the SHBC and uses the web address

Mike cheekily offers both Saint FM and the name SHBC in the deal – but not the St Helena Independent newspaper, which he plans to keep publishing.

He suggests that any buyer should have no trouble getting a broadcasting licence, given a recent government statement welcoming diversity in the media.

Why we closed Saint FM, by Mike and Bernice
Saint FM closes – links

LINK: Saint FM/Independent

‘We changed the island’ – Mike halts the heartbeat of St Helena

A candle burned in the crowded studio of Saint FM as the last song played out on St Helena’s best-loved radio station.

A few minutes earlier, station founder Mike Olsson told listeners around the world: “I think we changed the island. We have been able to bring more openness and more information to the people.”

He chose to end eight years on air with the old Seekers hit, The Carnival Is Over. When it faded, he switched off the transmitter and the flame was blown out.

For those present, it symbolised “the end of independent radio on St Helena and the plunging of the island into darkness”.

With three new stations due to launch some time in January 2013, albeit with start-up funding from St Helena Government, not everyone on St Helena would agree with the sentiment.

Officials in the Castle are now attempting to make sure the island’s airwaves do not fall completely silent when its only other existing broadcaster, Radio St Helena, closes down at the end of Christmas Day, after exactly 45 years on air.

St Helena Online had been told that the new stations might not go live until late January. The St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation is understood to have had to overcome substantial difficulties to launch them.

However, a government spokesman has now said it was hoped the launch would be “a bit sooner” in January.

He said it was too early to give definitive information, but officials were “working to bridge any radio gap between midnight on 25 December, and SHBC’s start-up.”

Radio St Helena station manager Ralph Peters has told St Helena Online that he may be able rescue a programme of messages from UK Saints, recorded by Johnny Clingham for Saint FM to play on Christmas Day.

Ralph has said he could broadcast the programme on Christmas afternoon if Johnny can get it to him via the internet.

Saint FM listeners urged to protest over ‘misuse’ of UK aid

UK listeners to Saint FM have been urged to protest to their members of Parliament over the station being “driven out of business” with British tax-payers’ money.

St Helena’s first and only fully-independent radio station announced on Wednesday, 19 December 2012, that it would close permanently within 48 hours.

Owner Mike Olsson said it could not compete with the “community owned” St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation (SHBC) to replace the government-owned Radio St Helena – due to close on Christmas Day 2012.

Governor Mark Capes has been quoted in The Sentinel – also published by the SHBC – stating that the new media organisation was set up by councillors.

Robert Thomson, a reader of St Helena Online with professional experience of community relations, has reacted to the closure announcement in a message calling for political protest in the UK.

He writes:

“I have been listening to Saint FM nearly every day for most of a year now. The station has provided me with not only entertainment, but an insight into life on St Helena.

“I am bitterly disappointed for Mike and his team, who have been driven out of business by state sponsored “competition”. Put in place by people who obviously can’t handle criticism.

“Well, they might be in for a bit more if all us UK residents start collectively writing to our MPs about the misuse of UK funding provided to the SHG. This sort of thing would not be even contemplated here, so I fail to see why it should be acceptable in St Helena.

“Here’s hoping that Saint FM can rise again from the ashes like the Phoenix.”

He closed The St Helena Independent in March 2012 when the government-funded Sentinel was launched and allowed to compete for advertising. The paper was revived a month later with support from island businesses and St Helena Online.

But Mike Olsson has told this website that the closure of Saint FM would be permanent: the station would automatically lose its licence once it went off air, he said.

The use of money from the UK’s Department For International Development has also been condemned in a message to an email newsgroup for people interested in life on Tristan da Cunha.

Saint FM has been relayed to listeners on St Helena’s sister island since 2008.

The writer says:

“In my opinion, the use of DFID funding, which comes from hard-pressed British taxpayers, to start and subsidise an unnecessary and competing government newspaper and radio station, is a wasteful violation of Britain’s long tradition of freedom of expression.”

St Helena Government is being asked to respond to the closure announcement and criticism.

In March 2012 it issued a statement in response to UK media interest in the closure of the Independent, saying it was “nonesense” that it wanted to see the paper shut down.

It said:

“Since St Helena Media Productions (SHMP) announced the closure of its Independent newspaper, much comment has been circulated, much of it exaggerated and distorted. The St Helena Government (SHG) wishes to clarify its position and set the record straight. Firstly, we recognise the Independent’s achievements, its contribution to stimulating debate and comment on St Helena, and to informing the public.

“When SHG proposed setting up a new, community-owned media service, this was approved by the Elected Representatives of the people of St Helena, in both Legislative and Executive Councils. Councillors fully endorsed SHG’s intention to set up a sustainable and modern community-owned service, run by talented Saints, to engage all audiences, including the younger sector, at a time of change and challenges. That plan did not include any intention to see the Independent newspaper close down and it is nonsense to suggest this.”

St Helena Online understands that Mike Olsson rejected an offer for the SHBC to buy him out, and was warned at the time that the new media organisation would be likely to put him out of business.

Read the St Helena Government statement on the Independent here.

Search dog Poppy wins award for finding missing child

The search dog that found missing three-year-old Ziggy Joshua has been given a commendation certificate for reuniting him with his parents.

St Helena’s deputy fire chief, Alan Thomas, has told how he asked for one of Paul Laban’s trained dogs to be brought in when Ziggy went missing in the Hutt’s Gate area, prompting a large search operation.

Ziggy had been on the island less than a week, on a visit from Ascension, when he wandered off in unfamiliar surroundings.

Alan told the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation: “If it had not been for Poppy on the day, who knows? She led us to Ziggy.

“Initially she was dragging Paul down the hill. She started to bark: I thought she was barking at the cattle, but to find no cattle down there. So maybe an indication she was nearing Ziggy. She changed direction, took Paul across the hill and back down the hill and there Ziggy were.”

Paul, who runs Top Dog Security, said any of his three dogs could have found Ziggy, after two and a half years of training with the fire and rescue service.

He said: “This is the first live we have actually gone on. It must give the people of St Helena a lot of heart knowing that these dogs, whichever one gets the shout, the outcome should be the same. They are brilliant dogs, superb. Nothing but praise for the handlers.”

Chief of police Peter Coll has presented commendation certificates to Paul and Alan, as well as to Poppy.

The SHBC daily news bulletin can be heard at any time at


Restoration is in the frame for Honeymoon Chair

Bougainvillea and broken support post slumped over the honeymoon chair
The damaged bougainvillea slumps over the concrete Honeymoon Chair (picture: Saint FM / Facebook)

The much-loved Honeymoon Chair on Jamestown waterfront should be restored to its former splendour by the end of August 2012, reports the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation – even if the bougainvillea that grew over it will take time to recover. The frame over the seat collapsed in April 2012, after the weight of the bougainvillea opened up cracks in the concrete cladding, causing the iron suports to corrode. Read more here.

Bulletins go live – before radio switch-on

News bulletins from St Helena’s newest media organisation are now going out on the airwaves – before it has even launched its first radio station.

The St Helena Broadcasting Corporation has been publishing audio bulletins on its website since April, but now it has arranged for them to be transmitted on Radio St Helena – the station its services will eventually replace.

In recent weeks, Radio St Helena has been sharing material with its former rival, the independently-owned Saint FM.

The SHBC bulletins go out at 5pm, 8pm, 10pm and again at 7am, local time (Greenwich Mean Time).

SHBC is a “community-owned” company, set up and funded by St Helena Government with the aim of becoming financially self-sufficient as the island’s economy grows. It also publishes The Sentinel newspaper.

Media saga takes new twist as Mike plans more radio stations

SHBC webcasts