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Cornwall Broadcasting grows to three radio brands, signs management deal for Hot 102 FM

Published:Monday | July 31, 2017 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder

Alfred Robinson, owner of Mello FM operator Cornwall Broadcasting Company Limited, is investing upwards of $45 million to bring two new radio brands to market, Energy FM and Riddim 96 FM, which will begin test transmissions in late August.

Energy FM is the new name for Hot 102 FM, which transmitted from Balmoral Avenue in Kingston. Riddim 96 FM is the former Linkz 96 FM, which transmits from Montego Bay. Linkz was acquired from Roger Allen of Yard Broadcasting Company Limited in February, Robinson said.

The two stations will be rehoused at studios owned by Mello on Barnett Street in Montego Bay and Cargill Avenue in Kingston.

Cornwall Broadcasting will be managing the former Hot 102 FM under contract with Western Broadcasting Services Limited, which is owned by Ken Williams.

Robinson explained that Williams would retain ownership and benefit from profit share under a new management and control deal with Cornwall, but over the longterm, acquisition of the station is a possibility.

"There is no ownership currently in terms of shares in the company itself, but after 10 years of operation acquisition will be considered," he said.


Approval for takeover


On Monday Cornwall Broadcasting, which was created in 1997, said the Broadcasting Commission had given its approval for it to take over management and control of Western Broadcasting Services Limited.

Don Dobson of the Broadcasting Commission confirmed that the change in management had been approved at the regulator's monthly meeting.

The commission stipulated that Cornwall Broadcasting provide coverage to 90 per cent of the island within six months.

Riddim will transmit from Mello FM headquarters on Barnett Street in Montego Bay as an all-reggae station, a segment now dominated by Irie FM.

"Much more can be done for reggae," Robinson asserted.

Robinson said he was spending $15 million on a new studio and equipment for Energy FM.

"We will put in all-digital equipment and will be running the full operation, using the frequencies," he said. "A significant amount is being spent now to get the station up and running. We are covering 90 per cent of costs. We will be paying for staffing and transmission going forward."

Ken Williams, a businessman with ties in Jamaica and the United States who acquired majority shares in Hot 102 FM radio from the CVM Group in December 2013, was not reached for comment.

Back in 2014, after acquiring the struggling radio station, Williams said he would have utilised connections to Caribbean communities abroad to monetise Jamaican music in ways never tried before.

Robinson, meantime, said mergers were key to a viable media industry, as the advertising pie was too small to sustain 30 radio stations. He has been approached by other radio stations looking for deals, but said he would weigh the proposals carefully as several of the broadcasters were low on technical and management skills.