(CMR) Cayman Marl Road can exclusively report that 5 remaining ICT licensees will have their licenses suspended as of 1st September 2019.
Alee Fa’amoe, Acting CEO & Executive Director ICT has confirmed that:
As of this morning, 30 Aug 2019, there are 5 ICT licensees, including Hurley’s TV (Cayman 27) who remain delinquent in the payment of their license fees and royalties, as required by their licenses and the Law. All have been advised directly.”
As per the suspension notices sent directly to them, delinquent licensees will have their licenses suspended effective 01 September 2019. CMR understands that OfReg will be meeting with Cabinet sometime next week before making any public statements.
Hurley’s TV Ltd./Cayman 27 has argued that they are being singled out by OfReg and held to a higher standard. However, exclusive sourced indicate that is not the case and five other entities have until Sunday to pay their fees before suspension.
It was revealed earlier in the week that Cayman 27 would be going black as of 6:00 pm this evening after not paying OfReg license fees for some three years. Unpaid regulatory and license fees have accumulated to $104,000 and they were due to have their license suspended along with the other five entities.
Cayman 27 opened in 1992, and was first a division of WestStar TV Ltd., before becoming part of Logic Communications Ltd. in 2014. It was acquired by Hurley’s Media the following year.
It has been revealed during local discussions that Cayman 27 has never been profitable. Randy Merren, managing director of Hurley’s TV Ltd, acquired the failing entity from Logic in 2015. Merren stated that he had discussed the station’s financial position before acquisition with OfReg.
“I was under the impression that there would be the creation of a ‘must carry’ fee, where each subscription TV licensed operator would pay to carry Cayman 27, so they could fulfill their own licence obligations that required each to provide local content. The ‘must carry’ fee or Universal Service Fund never came to pass.”Randy Merren – Cayman 27
13 persons will now be losing their jobs as a result of this. Of the 13 staff members who are losing their jobs, 10 are Caymanian, two are permanent residents and one is a work permit holder. Seven of the staff are full-time, and the others are part-time, Television Station Manager Tammi Sulliman said.
Merren also owns at least four local radio stations which are not impacted by the closure of Cayman 27.
Yesterday, Premier Alden McLaughlin stated:
“The decision to close the station was one made by its owner on the basis that it was not commercially viable. As far as the regulatory breaches are concerned, questions in this regard should be put to the regulator, OfReg.”
Whilst many are supportive of government intervening in some way others have contacted CMR with a number of questions regarding this viability of Cayman 27. Those have included:
- Why purchase a failing business from Logic and then expect regulatory agencies to change laws to make it financially viable?
- Will the government be bailing out other media entities when they fall on hard times due to a combination of changing markets and technological advances?
- Why was Logic so keen to offload the company?
- Why acquire a loan from Dart and move into posh office space when the company has no history of notable gains?
- Why spend almost $80,000 refurbishing his 39 foot, triple engine, Midnight Express boat instead of paying your governments fees?
- Why allow three years to pass without attempting to setup a payment schedule with OfReg?
- Why give staff only 2 days notices of a decision you knew was inevitable?
- When Randy Merren purchased Cayman 27 from Logic were there any outstanding regulatory fees?
Some opponents have suggested the last minute notice to terminate employment was done to create mass hysteria in the community and force government to offer a bailout. Thus far, it appears to be a favorable move with many politicians getting on board with that position.
CMR has attempted to answer these questions during our bi-weekly podcast last evening. Former Cayman 27 Senior Reporter and Weather Anchor, Joe Avery joined us last night on The Cold Hard Truth to discuss the topic and offer some insider opinions.