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Castle responds to Saint FM closure announcement

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St Helena Government has issued a statement following the announcement that Saint FM radio station is to close, citing impending competition from three government-funded stations.

A spokesman has said that the decision to close the station was a matter for its owner, Mike Olsson.

The statement responds to criticism of the use of British aid funding money to set up the St Helena Broadcasting Corporation in competition with a private sector broadcaster. A story on this site has called it a misuse of UK taxpayers’ money, inhibiting freedom of expression.

The statement says:

You talk about ‘misuse’ of public funds to set up SHBC and ask about its accountability. As you will know:

  • The people of St Helena, through their Elected Members, set policy on the Island
  • The establishment of SHBC was approved by Elected Members in both Legislative and Executive Councils
  • Councillors fully endorsed SHG’s intention to set up a sustainable and modern community-owned service, run by Saints.
  • Financial reasons were also a driver for change, because SHG had subsidised both media groups on St Helena for several years. This was not sustainable.
  • SHBC will provide three FM radio stations, the Sentinel newspaper and internet-based services, including television
  • SHBC appoints its own Board and is community managed. The organisation is managed by its Board, which is drawn from the community. It is editorially-independent across all of its services, with a mission to enrich peoples’ lives with media services that inform, entertain and educate. This is especially important at this time, when St Helena is undergoing rapid social and economic transformation.
  • SHBC is expected to generate sufficient revenue to be self-financing in the short to medium term.

The response also counters a complaint that Governor Mark Capes has been partisan in praising the “all-Saint” team behind the new media organisation, thereby appearing to endorse one organisation in favour of another.

Chief press officer Ian Jones said: “All he is doing is acknowledging and praising the achievements of Saints.  I fail to see what is wrong with that.”

In fact, Mike Olsson has pointed out to this website that Saint FM is also run entirely by Saints, including many volunteers: those not born on the island all had St Helenian status, he said.

Saint FM listeners urged to protest over ‘misuse’ of UK aid
Saint FM: listen to the closure announcement and interview

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