VSB TV station to cease broadcasting
The television channel VSB 11 is to cease broadcasting on Monday, according to operator DeFontes Broadcasting.
The cut is not expected to be permanent, and the company emphasised yesterday that its radio stations and radio news broadcasts would continue.
Radio coverage even stands to be boosted with extra features in sports and Parliamentary news, DeFontes announced.
However, the decision to pull the plug will leave 11 Bermudian employees out of work, eight permanent staff and three part-time, in a decision that management said was not made lightly.
It also deprives the Island of its well-known local NBC affiliate.
Dwights Denbrook, vice president of operations for WOW World on Wireless, last night told this newspaper it would be premature to comment on the matter.
And CableVision head Terry Roberson said: “We currently have a NBC affiliate on and will be seeking permission of the Regulatory Authority to execute our NBC HD channel.”
VSB’s reasons for closure echoed those cited for The Bermuda Sun newspaper, which shut down in July after 50 years’ service: continuing losses combined with crippling financial constraints.
The statement ascribed the VSB decision to declining advertising revenue, adding that there was “little reason to anticipate that the current economic situation will be improving substantially in the near future”.
The losses had been subsidised by Kenneth DeFontes, the principal owner, making it impossible to continue business as usual.
The shutdown will allow a reorganisation of the company to cut losses and find “innovative ways to enhance content, productivity and control spiralling costs, while offering advertisers value for dollars spent”.
VSB will also require updated technology — likely to prove “a very costly venture”.
The company said that it was seeking to partner, or sell to, investors supportive of local television news and programmes, and provide alternatives in viewer choice.
“Over the past several years the staff have worked hard on a daily basis to provide television news and services, despite cost cuts and difficulties with equipment, management is most grateful for their hard work and dedication and for a job well done, under stressful conditions at times.”
Operations manager Lynn Jefferson told The Royal Gazette that it was too early to speculate when the television service would return.
“It’s very important that there is more than one television news view,” she said. “But we just couldn’t continue with the way it was. Our biggest regret is for the Bermudians displaced. We’re very proud of the fact that we’re an all-Bermudian company.”
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