St. Helena Government About to Kill Off St. Helena INDEPENDENT

[By way of background: 

The Saint Helena Independent is one of the best newspapers among the UK overseas territories  (see it on-line at the digital sister publication, Saint FM at http://www.saint.fm/independent/). .  . . and it has been truly independent. 

The Government of St. Helena (SHG) — most likely with the knowledge and support of Her Majesty’s Government in the UK —  is about to shift all of its publication’s support to its own outlet that will compete directly against the St. Helena Independent, and will probably run them out of business, for all the reasons detailed below. . . 

Forcing the island’s independent press out of business at the same time that the island is about to gain its first air links to the global economy seems at least perverse. Read the editor’s statement below.

This is not a good idea, and maybe we should say so — at the very least write to the Independent at <independent@cwimail.sh>, and let them know we care and . . .  the whole world is watching. . .  . . . .  brucegordon]

Begin forwarded message from the St. Helena Independent, :


St. Helena Independent
23 March 2012
The St Helena Independent to Close Down
The Island’s Most Successful Newspaper is Killed Off – Saint FM to continue

The Independent, St Helena’s only private sector newspaper in modern times, will have to close after
next week’s issue. The Independent, also the Island’s most successful newspaper is closing against its
will; there is no other choice.

The reasons are;

· The Independent cannot compete on a commercial basis with the new heavily subsidised government
backed media organisation

· The new government backed media will charge low advertising rates because they are subsidised.
The price charged for every copy is much lower than the true cost because they
are subsidised. The St Helena Independent cannot compete against this unfair competition.

· The low advertising rates and the low charge for buying the new newspaper will not cover the government
backed newspaper’s staff and printing costs. The St Helena Independent cannot compete
against this. It will be a constant uphill struggle and doomed to failure.

· The St Helena Independent has to set charges to cover all its costs; if it does not, it makes a loss
and will build up debt more debt week after week.

· WORST OF ALL, IT IS UNDERSTOOD THE ST HELENA GOVERNMENT WILL NOT BE PLACING
ANY ADVERTISING WITH THE ST HELENA INDEPENDENT AFTER ITS OWN NEWSPAPER
STARTS NEXT WEEK. IT WILL ONLY ADVERTISE IN THE NEWSPAPER IT IS BACKING
WITH BIG SUBSIDIES. THIS WILL REDUCE THE MONEY MADE BY THE ST HELENA INDEPENDENT
TO PAY ITS BILLS.

· The only newspaper in St Helena in modern times which has existed free of government influence
and government money is now being killed off because of the actions of government.

EDITORIAL

The future of the St Helena Independent has been in doubt for
the last few months. Ever since details of the final plans for
made for the new government subsidised media trickled out
of The Castle, bit by bit, it has looked increasingly bad for the
future of ANY private sector media in St Helena.

It is certainly true The Independent has had a difficult relationship
with the St Helena government. Difficult relationships
between the Press and the State in democratic countries are
a common thing, in fact, often the usual thing. It is not the
usual thing for the state to take actions which are certain to
kill off the free press; except in the communist countries and
countries ruled by dictators.

In setting up a new subsidised media the St Helena government
has made a mockery of several of its own much publicised
polices and grand pronouncements.

Untargeted Subsidies

Remember the big talk about changing
the way government subsidies are handed out so that only
those who genuinely need them actually receive them. Well,
all that has been ignored. The government are throwing many,
many thousands of pounds at a new media organisation which
it is not absolutely necessary to have, while people on low
incomes continue to wait for the government to finish their
assessment of what welfare benefits should really be.

Promoting the Private Sector

We have been on the receiving
end of all sorts of government talk over a long period of time
about building up the Island’s private sector. The government’s
policy says it is to sell off some of its own activities to private
sector interests. Websites and news media around the world
are picking up on the story about St Helena welcoming investors
to the Island in advance of the airport opening. Government
help to build up the private sector has been talked about
for several years and has still not come up to much. Any
overseas investor thinking of putting money into St Helena
should look long and hard at the history of private sector efforts
to get a real economy going here. Thornton and Timmreck
are two resounding examples. Now we can add The St Helena
Independent to the list of examples which show how little regard
is given to the private sector in St Helena.

Democracy

Government press releases often refer to democratic
processes, consultation, good governance and the rest.

Democracy is much more than electing councillors every few
years. Democratic action is a daily thing and has to be shown
to be in action. One important part of it is that those in power
have to be able to take criticism and argue their case openly
and honestly. In the UK there is not just Her Majesty’s Government;
there is Her Majesty’s Opposition. Here in St Helena
there are too many instances through the years of opposition
to government not being tolerated and there is no change in
sight.

Enjoy the rest of this week’s Independent. We will carry on
as we always have done for the short time that is left for this
newspaper. Remember, Saint FM will remain on the air 24
hours a day and we look forward to continuing to entertain
and inform you when you tune in to 93.1. More on this next
week


Each man’s death diminishes me,

For I am involved in mankind.

Therefore, send not to know

For whom the bell tolls,

It tolls for thee.


John Donne

About Bruce

Work for sustainable development of small islands; ex-Peace Corps (Volunteer and staff) in LA & Caribbean; cruised Caribbean on S/Y Meander for three years; like small tropical islands, French canals, Umbria, Tasmania, and NZ. Married 50 years. Former President (1995 to 2016) of Island Resources Foundation.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s