MIKE AND BERNICE OLSSON, owners of Saint FM, published the following statement on 29 December 2012, a week after closing St Helena’s first independent radio station:
The closure of Saint FM
“Cheating the hangman”
It was with great sadness we had to close down Saint FM on 21st December 2012. We apologise to staff, volunteers, listeners and all helpers.
Saint FM had a great impact on and off the island and was instrumental in opening up St Helena locally and internationally. Unfortunately, the importance was not recognised by our colonial masters.
Running a small private radio station on St Helena is far from a profitable business, but you can live with the losses if you can see a brighter future. Saint FM could not see a light at the end of the tunnel. The St Helena and UK governments have decided to dedicate hundreds of thousands of pounds* of taxpayers’ money into their own radio station where all equipment, salaries, electricity, rent and communication costs are borne by the state.
On top of it, the SHBC is also allowed to provide state-subsidised advertising. Where does this leave the private sector and a diversified media?
Saint FM is not broke and has no large debts, but with the gloomy prospects ahead, if we would have decided to continue until government squeezed us out, we would have suffered considerable losses. Government would have lost even more, but we can hardly compare the pockets of Saint FM with the vast budget of DfID (the UK Department for International Development).
We are aware that St Helena Government is very disappointed that Saint FM did not keep open until they had started their own operation in early 2013, but I believe that listeners and supporters have full sympathy with us for “swallowing the pill” and being masters of our own destiny, instead of waiting for the hangman to get us.
Happy New Year and thank you for all the support over the years.
Read more in the St Helena Independent on Friday 3 January.
Mike & Bernice
*The full extent of government funding for the St Helena Broadcasting (Guarantee) Corporation has not been revealed. It is thought to exceed £100,000. Further investment has been made in premises.