In December 2008, a license to operate an FM radio station was issued to Grant Communications by the National Telecommunications and Regulatory Commission (NTRC). The license was valid for five years.
Since the company was unable to raise the funding required to establish a station of the calibre it was proposing, it did not take to the airwaves during the license period.
Just prior to the expiration of the license, on November 8, 2013, Grant Communications advised the NTRC of its desire to have the license renewed since there were indications that some funding had been sourced which would enable it to launch on a smaller scale than originally anticipated.
The NTRC indicated its willingness to renew the license, but pointed out to the company that the associated fees had not been paid during the five year period. The company explained that it had believed that, since it had not commenced operations, it was not aware that the fees had to be paid even if the spectrum had not been used.
The NTRC and Grant Communications negotiated a payment schedule and payment was made in full; following which the company was advised that the renewal process was underway. The NTRC also advised the company that this would take some time because of the bureaucracy.
At that time, the company enquired of the NTRC whether they could proceed with the commissioning of the station while they awaited the license and was told “yes” by two senior members of the regulatory body. As such, CHIME FM was initially launched on May 15, 2014.
Immediately upon going on-air, it was discovered that a Trinidad-based FM station was also operating on the same frequency, 101.7. This interference prompted the company to return to the NTRC and was promptly granted another frequency, 100.9 and told that if additional problems were encountered there, a subsequent frequency would be allocated. This did not become necessary.
On July 1, the station ended its test phase which consisted of primarily music, and began airing spoken-word programming. The response from listeners here in Grenada and abroad has been overwhelmingly positive.
On October 20, a letter on the NTRC’s letterhead was delivered to CHIME’s studio advising that the station should “immediately desist from broadcasting.”
A call was made to the NTRC, at which time Grant Communications was advised that the letter had not been penned by them but was merely delivered for onpass to the company.
It has since been learned that, although CHIME’s licensing fees have already been paid in full, the majority of the stations operating in Grenada are in non-compliance with licensing requirements; and that at least one, in fact, does not even have a license.
Attorneys for Grant Communications are working assiduously to have this matter resolved. But, in the meantime, the company steadfastly points to the cooperation which it has received over the years from the NTRC — including during the current scenario.
It describes the agency as one which has reached out to local broadcasters rather than exuding the atmosphere of fear normally associated with regulatory bodies.