EY Report: Sale of Radio Cayman recommended

Raido Cayman, owned and operated by the Cayman Islands government since 1976, should be sold, a consultant’s report has recommended.

“A sale should be immediately pursued to respond to reported interest, but would likely require Government to enter into a two-to-three year contract for the provision of community, cultural and emergency services,” states the Ernst & Young Review of Public Services.

It suggests identification of potential purchasers and establishment of a steering committee within a four-month period, to be followed by another three months of due diligence conducted on bidders, negotiations, and a resource identified to monitor performance of the contract.

The EY report points out that Radio Cayman provides what other stations do not – including coverage of the Legislative Assembly, cultural programs and live coverage of national events. The station is able to provide emergency announcements at short notice, and it is well respected by the community for its “dependable/credible” newscasts, the report states.

If the station were sold, government would likely have to enter into a contract with the new owner for provision of community and emergency services and for the delivery of cultural programs and local content.

An alternative to selling Radio Cayman would be to improve its commercial viability and then sell it in another year or two, according to the EY consultants. Customer service is unlikely to be impacted either way, the report states.

It also notes, “There is an active domestic radio market, albeit it is reported that many local operators struggle to operate profitability [sic].”

Radio Cayman is comprised of two stations, Radio Cayman One and Breeze FM. There are 18 full-time staff, plus talk show hosts and special program presenters.

When Radio Cayman was started, the only other local radio station was based at the International College of the Cayman Islands in Newlands, and its reception area was limited. Now there are 18 radio stations licensed by the Information and Communications Technology Authority.

By 1981, according to the Cayman Islands Annual Report, Radio Cayman was taking in sufficient revenue to cover its operating costs. For the 2013-14 financial year, revenue covered about one-third of operating costs; government funding provided slightly more than $1 million.

Management expressed the opinion that revenue was being lost “due to an inability to sell advertising related to alcohol,” and that recruiting another sales manager would enhance revenue. A change in legislation would be required to permit the advertising of alcohol.

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