Chairperson delivers press statement to – Saint FM Community

The Saint FM Chairperson has delivered the following statment today

PRESS STATEMENT

Dear Members, Supporters & Listeners of Saint FM Community Radio,

It is with much regret that today I formally advise you that I am relinquishing my posts as Chair of Saint FM Community Radio (Gty) Limited, the Company and Chair of Saint FM Community Association, the Fundraising Committee.  In addition, I also advise you that Donna Crowie, our Station Manager, Director & Treasurer of Saint FM Community Radio (Gty) Limited and Member of the Fundraising Committee also relinquishes her post today.  Both of us will leave Saint FM Community Radio on or before 31st July 2015 if circumstances do not change.

This decision has not been easy, but one that we have both considered thoroughly.  We have enjoyed our time with Saint FM Community Radio, it has been an uphill struggle, challenging but very rewarding.  To have been instrumental in the initiation and growth of Saint FM is something that we are both extremely proud of, however to be continually faced with financial difficulties has taken its toll and makes every month, if not day an unnecessary burden.  Both Donna and I would love to stay and continue with Saint FM Community Radio but unless we gain the support of our government this is not possible, therefore by way of this statement we are giving you, the community; the real owners of this station a final opportunity to join us in our attempts to convince our government, which consist both our councillors, our elected members and SHG Officials that we need their support.  If together, we can encourage them to fully appreciate the significance of Saint FM, to understand how important it is for our loved ones near and far, how important it is in disseminating information by way of news, interviews and live discussions, to understand how Saint FM plays an important role in our cultural values, to understand how it provides the opportunity for our views and opinions to be heard.  Is it so difficult for our government to comprehend this?  Are they not concerned about our wishes?  Are they losing sight of their responsibilities in taking this island forward?  To our Government, I would like to state that we, the community of this island are your responsibility; we are the ones that will take this island forward.  Without us, this  community, all your aspirations will be forgotten, all your plans will never reach fruition, we are the most important assets that this island has, lose sight of us and you lose sight of our bright future.

Saint FM Community Radio was initiated in January 2013, some 2½ years ago.  We have faced challenges the entire time and overcame many, but our lack of finances continues.  We provide advertising services, which has been greatly supported throughout; we have actively fundraised, which has been the saving grace for this station on many occasions.  We receive generous donations and receive income from our annual membership fees both here and internationally, but the fact remains – it is still not sufficient to sustain us.

 

To enable us to run efficiently we need a monthly income of approximately £6,000.00.  This is to permit us to honour our monthly expenses which include the following:

 

                                                                                            £

Rent                                                                                 300.00

Broadcasting Licence                                                        34.00 (Annual Cost approx. £400)

Stationery                                                                          60.00 (to include printer inks)

Salaries                                                                       2,000.00

SURE SA Limited                                                             620.00 (to include lease circuit)

Monthly Utilities (this is for the station only)                 434.00

Transmitter Costs (to include expansion to Blue Hill)                472.50

Total Monthly Expenses                                        4,254.50

 

These are the projected figures that were presented to SHG for this Financial Year 2015/16, which includes the additional costs per month compared to 2014/15 of:

  • £400.00 extra to enable Saint FM to employ an additional full-time member of staff, who would be responsible for collating NEWS, Interviews, providing information for website uploads and administration. 
  • The transmitter costs have increased by £245.70 to include the additional cost to transmit to Blue Hill and increase the output at both High Knoll & Deadwood to enable a stronger signal to reach Blue Hill, Sandy Bay & Levelwood permitting us to broadcast island wide.

Currently our monthly income received from advertising and local membership fees are as follows:

                                                                                          £

Advertising                                                                  1,805.00

Local membership fees                                                  200.00

Total Income                                                         2,005.00

 

The monthly shortfall experienced each month is therefore £2,249.50; which equates to an annual shortfall of approximately £27k.

This expenditure does not include the cost of replacement equipment, which is extremely important to the functionality of the station, as due to the nature of the business most spares or new equipment is not available on island, therefore it would be beneficial to have essential spares readily available.  Ideally we would like to have £6k per annum on standby for such purchases, this has not been possible to date due to stringent finances, and hence it was our plan to continue to fundraise, potentially on a quarterly basis to raise funds for this specific purpose.  Once again this was shared with SHG during our presentation and the correspondence that followed thereafter before the announcement made by EXCO on the 09th June 2015.

For those unaware of our financial predicament; the announcement that was issued on Tuesday, 09th June would have been received as fantastic news; this is certainly not the case.  Our Government are well aware of our financial status; I provided endless answers and financial documentation to support this, yet they respond by being “pleased to grant a one-off emergency financial assistance of £15k to Saint FM Community Radio in order to ensure its continuance prior to the conclusion of the Island Media Review”.  This in my opinion is unacceptable and acts as a direct insult to our plea, especially when we know the Island Media Review should have been completed over a year ago and SHG still offers a generous subsidy to South Atlantic Media Services (SAMS) of some £90k when they should now be self-sufficient.  How can this outcome be justified?  We are told that the Media Review is scheduled to be completed by October this year, what guarantee do we have of that and more importantly, how do we know if the review will be positive for independent media?  What will emerge from this review that will magically increase our income by some £25k?  Will they furnish us with exclusive advertising rights?  Do they believe this is the answer?  In my opinion it isn’t.  We currently receive as many, if not more adverts that SAMS Radio 1, the only option would be to increase our advertising rates, which will adversely affect our customers, who have been of enormous support throughout.  Taking into consideration we currently raise approximately £24k per annum from advertising, it would mean doubling our advertising rates to bring in the level of income required, is this economically viable or even ethical?  If this is the direction SHG is considering, it will result in them forever handing out subsidies of some £90k to SAMS to survive.  How can this be justified, when they are unable to support us with a fractional amount of £25k?

 

It is for this primary reason that I do not wish to continue my role as Chairperson of Saint FM Community Radio (Gty) Limited.  I have made huge sacrifices, simply to assist in making Saint FM Community Radio what it is today.  A station that is supported and loved by the majority of our community and well-loved by our international listeners on Ascension, the Falkland Islands and elsewhere.  With this said however, I have yet to gain the full support and understanding of our government.  Their decision to continuously make it difficult for Saint FM to survive is beyond belief.  Their lack of enthusiasm to provide us with financial assistance to enable us to continue and improve the services offered to the community of St. Helena and beyond, demonstrates their unwillingness to listen to the wants and needs of our community.  This for me is sad and inexcusable, my suggestions are depleted, hence my reason for turning to you, the members, supporters and listeners of Saint FM.  Do you wish for Saint FM to continue “as is”?  Are you prepared to unite and help us gain SHG’s support?  If you are, I would encourage you to put your suggestions forward as to how best we can achieve this.  If no proposals are received soonest, I will part ways with Saint FM Community Radio as of 31st July 2015.

 

With this said however, this announcement does not signify the closure of the station, it does signify however change of management.  I have met with the committee of Saint FM and those currently involved with the running of the station and there is a group of enthusiasts who are prepared to continue.  They are working together to administer a plan, however Saint FM Community Radio (Gty) Ltd, the Company, will be seeking to fill the seats of two directors to undertake the roles of Chairperson & Treasurer.  Saint FM Community Association, the fundraising committee, will also be seeking additional members to join their team.  If Directors cannot be identified the continuation of Saint FM is unknown.

This therefore is your chance to make a difference; this is your opportunity to lend a hand in ensuring the future of Saint FM Community Radio.  Don’t forget Saint FM Community Radio was “created by the people, for the people” it would therefore be most disappointing if this couldn’t be sustained.

Thank You!

Julie Thomas

Chairperson

Saint FM Community Radio (GTY) Limited

A audio annoucement of the press statement from The Saint FM Chairperson please listen carefully and share (arrow on the right within the audio) if you think this will make a difference.

 

 

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