by Linda Straker
David Allard who is the founder and owner of the recently launched Voice of St Andrew, has confirmed that he was visited by officers of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Commission on Monday, informing him that his station was operating illegally.
Though they did not serve a cease and desist letter, Allard said that he was unable to meet with the officers due to an ailment, but the message was relayed through his secretary. “But I have a license which was issued on May 19, 2014, just a few months ago, so I don’t understand why they are saying I am illegal now,” he said.
However, he explained that the station which operations at 104.5 FM is operating under a licence issued to another media house. “We are actually a subsidiary of the Spice Capital Radio, and our station identification explains that to the listeners; yes a license was not directly issued in the name of Voice of St Andrew, but we are a subsidiary of Spice Capital, so I think that makes us legal,” Allard said.
However, Dr Spencer Thomas, Chairman of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, explained that a licence cannot be rented, switched, borrowed or lent, and the relevant action will be taken on Voice of St Andrew which came into operation on 27 September 2014. “We will definitely have to get our legal people involved in this matter, because it’s not just a case of operating on an expired license — they have no license, and our officers informed the station of that development today,” he said.
Dr Thomas also confirmed that the Commission is presently looking into the operations of all broadcast entities in Grenada to confirm that they are in compliance with the 2000 Telecommunications Act.
The investigation was prompted following the decision to ask CHIME FM which is operated by George Grant to cease and desist operations last week Tuesday, because of not having a proper license to broadcast on the airway. “That issue has been resolved. It’s unfortunate that we had to take this action, but right now it’s resolved,” said Thomas.
Following the action on the CHIME, it is understood that owners of the existing stations contacted the Commission to know about their status. “Most of them are now engaging in the process so that they can be regularized,” said Dr Thomas, who explained that before the NTRC came into operation, licenses for telecommunications providers were issued directly by the Government at the Telecommunications unit in the Ministry of Works.
“All of them were called to a meeting and the new process was explained, and some of them began the process of compliance, but difficulties happened along the way and we accommodated them with the hope that gentle persuasion will work; so CHIME FM was just the start of getting all of them regularize. Nothing was sinister about issuing that letter,” he stated.