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.