The group trying to revive St Helena’s first independent radio station has finally been granted a licence, after weeks of struggle.
Initially the licence – costing £480 to cover four frequencies – will run for one year.
Mike Olsson, former owner of the station, was expected to begin tests over the weekend from transmitters at Head o’ Wain, High Knoll, Jamestown and the Flagg.
Consent to broadcast was agreed at a special meeting of the island’s executive council on Friday 22 February 2013.
The station abruptly closed down days before Christmas, but a group of supporters and experienced island broadcasters held a meeting soon afterwards to launch a revival bid.
After failing to meet the conditions to set up a charity, the group founded a company limited by guarantee, under the guidance of the chief magistrate, John MacRitchie – who has extensive experience of dealing with the media.
Only once the new company’s articles of association were in place did the executive council feel able to recommend approval for a licence – technically granted by Governor Mark Capes.
Julie Thomas, chair of the new Saint FM Community Radio, has now received a letter confirming the licence has been approved.
She said: “We have now made the necessary payment. However, the Attorney General didn’t have the licence ready. He is hoping to have it completed by early next week, which could mean Tuesday or Wednesday.”
The group was staging promotional events at Half Tree Hollow and Longwood today (Saturday 23 February 2013), to encourage more people to sign up as members, at a cost of £5 a year (£1 unwaged).
Membership stood at approximately 250 after a launch event in Jamestown on 16 February.
Julie added: “Mike has started testing, so parts of St Helena will hear the familiar sounds of Saint FM over the weekend and increasing coverage as we go now into next week.”
Saint FM’s rival station, SAMS Radio 1, was officially launched on 13 February 2013, though with only six hours of hosted programmes on weekdays.
The station’s launch was delayed by transmission difficulties. It is understood they continue to be a problem.