Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Radio St Helena to go off the air this year

One of the remotest islands on earth, St Helena in the South Atlantic, will
experience big changes in its media this year. Radio St Helena, which
operates on 1548 kHz mediumwave and for some years broadcast a special
once-a-year programme on shortwave via a transmitter of Cable and Wireless,
will be closing down. Its parent company, St Helena News Media Services, is
being dissolved, and the final edition of its newspaper the St Helena Herald
was published on 9 March 2012.

In its place, a new government-funded company called the St Helena
Broadcasting Corporation (SHBC) has been set up, and will operate three FM
radio stations on the island, one of which will be a relay of the BBC World
Service. The intention is that SHBC will become self-sustainable within
three years. It officially became operational in February, and will also
publish a weekly newspaper to replace the Herald. The first edition will be
published later this month, but the radio stations are not expected to go on
air until the summer. Until then, Radio St Helena will continue operating.

The other current station on the island, Saint FM http://www.saint.fm/ that
started operating in 2005, was invited to become part of the new
organisation, but station manager Mike Olsson subsequently pulled out of
discussions. Saint FM provides a 24-hour community service on FM, and is
also broadcast on Ascension Island, the Falkland Islands and Tristan da
Cunha. Its internet stream enables Saints around the world to keep in touch
with their families on the island. Former Radio St Helena station manager
Tony Leo can be heard on Saint FM every Wednesday at 1500-1700 UTC. Saint FM
also publishes a weekly newspaper, the St Helena Independent.

The resident population of St Helena, who are entitled to hold UK passports
but have no automatic right of residence in the UK, is currently just over
4,000, but this is being boosted by the arrival of personnel from the
company building the island's first airport, which is due to open in 2015.
It's expected that the number of tourists per year will rise from the
current level of under 1,000 to 30-50,000.

(from RNW Media Network: Andy Sennitt)