Seven weeks after Saint Lucia’s Minister with responsibility for Telecommunications, Senior Minister Stephenson King, ordered that three broadcast frequencies operating illegally be pulled off the air, Sky FM, the subject of the unlicensed operation, continues to operate regardless – despite its operators possibly facing a million-dollar fine or a ten-year jail sentence.
That’s the current state-of-play today as Sky FM continues to ignore an official October 13, 2021 ministerial directive to virtually land, cease operation and put its house in order before taking-off again.
King told reporters on November 30: “There was some kind of transfer between Kairi FM and a company known as LA Broadcasting owned by United Workers Party stalwart, Lionel Ellis regarding equipment, but no correspondence as to the legality of the transaction.”
According to the minister, “a third company” named Torch Productions and Promotions came into play and the frequencies returned to Kairi FM — and now Sky FM.
Based on recommendations by the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) dated September 15, 2021 to terminate, with immediate effect, all three frequencies — 107.9, 93.1 and 369.0 — previously granted to Nature Island Communications Corporation Limited (also known as Kairi FM), King issued the government’s directive, dated October 13, 2021, to effect the termination order. King said that Sky FM is currently operating illegally.
“Well, the radio station that is on is not Kairi FM,” said King. According to the minister, “It is an illegal radio station called Sky FM.” He further added, “They have no spectrum license and no broadcast license…”
According to King, “This situation has been going on for years and it’s really an indication of the lack of performance of those who were in charge to take the necessary action.” The previous minister under whose portfolio the issue fell was Guy Joseph.
He insists that “It’s really a dereliction of duties that a radio station can violate the laws and no action is taken. “And on the back of it, another radio station emerges without a broadcast license and without a spectrum license.”
He said he has “reached-out” to Kairi FM and indicated the violation based on ECTEL’s recommendation to terminate the spectrum license and allow his ministry “to proceed with further action.”
As it turns out, almost two months after Sky FM was ordered off-air, the station continues to fly as if nothing had happened. The Chairman of the NTRC is none other than Lionel Ellis, who was appointed by the previous UWP administration has not resigned (four months after the July 26 general elections) to allow the new administration the option to appoint a new chair. Word reaching Saint Lucia News Online (SLNO) is that Ellis is standing his ground, as if begging to be fired.
Meanwhile, Sky FM continues to fly.