Infrastructure and Works Minister Stephenson King has added another twist to concerns surrounding the validity of the operations of Sky FM radio station—by implicating the chairman of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) in the ongoing saga.
Reports in the press and on social media had indicated that the station, purportedly owned and managed by operatives of the main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has been operating in breach of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) regulations.
King, whose portfolio also includes telecommunications, has taken to task personnel of the local telecommunications sector, under the former UWP administration, for alleged ‘dereliction of duty’ for failing to take action against the radio station.
According to the minister, this alleged violation predates the former administration, and that the former minister with responsibility for telecommunications had full knowledge that the station was operating without due authorization, yet no action was taken to rectify the situation…
However, said King, since assuming his more recent ministerial role and being informed of the matter he has decided this is an issue, which warrants urgent attention.
“This is a situation that 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 minister declared.
“So, it’s really a dereliction of duties that a radio station can violate the laws and no action is taken,” said King.
“And on the back of it, another radio station emerges without a broadcast license and without a spectrum license,” he explained. “Kairi FM has been operating in St Lucia for a little while and a few years ago, apparently ceased operation. And there was some kind of transfer between Kairi FM and the company known as LA Broadcasting of equipment that no correspondence as to the legality of the transaction.”
He went on to say that later on, another company called Torch Productions of Torch Promotions entered the fray alongside the two radio stations – Sky FM and Kairi FM.
It has been reported that a written recommendation from the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), dated 15 September 2021 spurred Minister King to take action, which resulted in the termination with immediate effect, the use of radio frequencies 107.9MHz and 369.0MHz granted to Nature Island Communications Corp. Ltd better known as Kairi FM.
Expounding on the current situation, King asserted: “So we did what has been pending for years, where a minister refused to take the necessary action …to terminate the spectrum license for Kairi FM.”
King told reporters that, subsequently, he contacted the management of Kairi FM “to indicate the violation based on ECTEL’s recommendation to terminate the spectrum license and to allow the department to proceed with further action.”
To add to the controversy, the minister disclosed that the current NTRC chairman is involved in this overall matter.
“One of the parties involved in Kairi FM, LA FM, Torch FM, and Sky FM is also the chairman of the NTRC,” noted King. “He has failed to resign …and he is in the middle of it. There is a conflict of interest …and 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 that matter.”
The minister was quick to point out that the Sky FM issue is not a matter embroiled in ‘political victimization’.
King stated that the Sky FM issue was just one of a myriad of issues that had to be dealt with. While Sky FM continues to broadcast on the 93.1 frequency range, the minister assured that this situation would not exist for much longer.
While assuring reporters that the matter is due to be dealt with shortly, King said: “There is a time frame and we will work within that time frame… and you will get to know soon.”
Upwards to press time, there have been no further developments on this matter, as it was observed that Sky FM was still broadcasting live.