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Nov 30, 1998

B.C.B. goes off the air

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The Broadcasting Corporation of Belize officially went off the air at noon today. Two other stations, LOVE FM and KREM Radio have signed contracts to purchase the transmitters and transmitting systems for two B.C.B. broadcast frequencies at a cost of about one hundred and sixteen thousand dollars each. They will also rent tower space on the nationwide antenna system. A number of bids have been accepted from various media houses throughout the country to purchase the B.C.B.’s equipment. News Five was at the Albert Cattouse Building this morning as announcer Neil Hall signed off for the last time and the transmitting equipment dismantled.

Neil Hall, Announcer

“Following this selection we’ll have the National Anthem and Prayer for Our Nation as we close the station permanently. As you’ll no longer be listening to Friends 88.9 nor will you be listening to 91.1 Radio Belize. This is the Broadcasting Corporation of Belize I am Neil Hall saying it’s been my pleasure being with you. I leave you with this final selection which will be played immediately after this.”

Moments after Neil Hall made his final dedications to listeners the B.C.B. was off the air. Engineers from Tenchtronics literally pulled the plug on the B.C.B. and began dismantling broadcast equipment. General Manager of LOVE Rene Villanueva Sr. and his technical crew then took some of this to Ladyville where it was hooked up to LOVE FM’s main transmitting equipment so that LOVE could begin broadcasting almost immediately on 88.9. The General Manager of LOVE FM Rene Villanueva Sr. says with this new frequency his station’s coverage of the country will improve.

Rene Villanueva Sr., General Manager, LOVE FM

“We cover most of the country on LOVE FM using small low powered transmitters which is basically the way our system was set up in the main residential areas. There are certain areas for example moving along the highways and so on, there are certain areas where we have blind spits. Now utilizing Friends FM will definitely cover those blind spots and ensure for perhaps maybe the first time, that by adding Friends’ system to the existing LOVE FM system we will be able to ensure for the first time comprehensive nationwide coverage. Because one of the things we should realize is not even the B.C.B. was providing total nationwide coverage; there were still some pockets where the signal could not be heard.”

Chairman of the transition committee responsible for the B.C.B. divestment Godfrey Smith says their goals was as to have 88.9. off the air for as short a time as possible today, perhaps only an hour or two. He explained how LOVE FM and KREM were awarded the two frequencies.

Godfrey Smith, Chairman, Transition Committee

“In terms of the radio station 91.1 we had only one bidder for it because if you looked at the divestment document you would have noted that it was set up so that the station was sold as it was. It was not broken up into pieces as it was sold as a station with all the component parts, the only bid for that came was from KREM. That means that KREM will now be getting the frequency 91.1.

In terms of the other frequency 88.9, I think we had four bids: La Isla Bonita Communications out of San Pedro, we had Silva Brothers out of Cayo, Love FM. The two other than LOVE did not possess valid radio licenses which was a prerequisite — if you looked at the divestment document — and overall Love FM presented the best bid for 88.9.”

Godfrey Smith says all that remains of the divestment process is to notify the thirteen or so media houses who made bids for equipment that their proposals have been accepted and then to make a general report on the divestment.

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