Saint Lucia’s Minister for National Telecommunications wants the current Chair of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (NTRC) to resign, but he refuses to go.
The Minister accuses the Chairman of being in a position of clear “Conflict of Interest” and failing to lead the NTRC properly in a matter that he (the chairman) has a personal interest.
But the chairman has so far ignored the minister and remains tightly seated more than four months after General Elections, which resulted in a change of government.
NTRC Chairman Lionel Ellis was appointed by the last UWP administration.
Minister Stephenson King says Ellis and the NTRC are guilty of “dereliction of duty” for having failed to rein in a local radio station that’s been operating illegally “for years” under his watch. King, who was part of the UWP administration when Ellis was appointed, is now a Senior Minister in the current Labour Party-led administration and says he’s determined “to deal with” the outstanding issue of the illegality of Sky FM, a radio and TV operation he says has been in and out of Ellis’ hands, but still operates outside the NTRC’s legal framework.
Interestingly, King recently cited a recommendation from the NTRC to terminate Sky FM’s operations, but the station, which was served notice by the minister, has so far ignored the directive.
The letter from the minister also indicated violations or refusal to comply can attract a One Million Dollars fine and up to ten years in jail.
Addressing Ellis’ involvement with Sky while serving as NTRC Chair, King says: “One of the parties involved is also the NTRC Chair… He has failed to resign… and he is in the middle of a Conflict of Interest…”
King also fingered the island’s regulators, saying: “People who should have known better, people who are supposed to uphold the law, people who are involved in the regulatory process of broadcasting and telecommunications, are all conspirators in this matter.”
He said, “This is a situation that’s 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.”
He continued, “It’s really a dereliction of duties that a radio station can violate the laws and no action is taken.”
He promised news reporters, however, that the matter of Sky FM’s illegal operations, will be settled soon.