WVUV – Selling A Radio Station To Raise The Wind

This article first appeared in the Pacific Islands Monthly magazine, May 1975 and now forms part of the Radio Heritage Collection ©. All rights reserved to Ragusa Media Group, PO Box 14339, Wellington, New Zealand. This material is licenced on a non-exclusive basis to South Pacific DX Resource hosted on radiodx.com for a period of five years from May 1 2002. Author: Pacific Islands Monthly
Keywords WVUV
Radio Samoa Limited  
 As a result of the 30% cut in expenditure during the past six months of the current financial year to June 30, 1975, the American Samoa government is frantically looking for ways and means of raising extra revenues. Top on the list is the sale or lease of government facilities like the Marine Railway, the KVZK television station and the Americana Hotel, which is largely government owned. Already, the government has leased Radio Station WVUV to Radio Samoa Limited, a company owned by Lawrence S Berger, who reputedly owns a number of radio stations in Honolulu, Robert M Newgard, a Los Angeles motion picture distributor, and Ronald E Pritchard, a local businessman. Negotiations between the government and Radio Samoa Limited began more than two years ago, but it was not until April 1973, that a lease agreement was formally drawn up. Then followed another two years while the lease was being considered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and it was not until February 20 this year, that FCC approval for the lease was finally given. But it was an uphill fight all the way for Radio Samoa Limited, for there was much opposition to the lease or sale of WVUV. Radio Samoa’s antagonists were chiefly the legislature of American Samoa and the former delegate-at-large in Washington DC, Fuimaono Asuemu. Both the Fono and Fuimaono opposed the lease on the grounds that if the station were leased, there would be difficulty in providing a public information service to the villages, a service now being done free. Hence, the lease would not be in the public interest. More specifically, they claimed that the land on which WVUV was located could not be used for a private purpose; that the proposed transfer of the station to private operation would be inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and that the lease agreement violated conflict-of-interest regulations. On the land question, the FCC found for Radio Samoa, holding that there was no illegality in the transfer. The Commission said it was difficult to discern the logic in the argument that the proposal would flout treaty obligations. ‘Realistically’, the FCC noted, ‘what is involved here is not simply a unilateral determination of former Governor Haydon as the petitioners charge, but rather an affirmative step by the United States Government, reasonably expected to provide for the responsible operation of a broadcast station and to relieve the government of the responsibility of station operation’. It pointed out that there was no shortage of standard broadcast frequencies on which other stations could operate in Samoa and that it was ready to consider any proposals for additional stations. Under the terms of the lease, Radio Samoa will operate the station for 30 years with a rental rate of $10,000 a year for the first 18 years. After that the rent will be adjusted. Radio Samoa has the right to buy the station from the fourth to the 13th year of the lease for $200,000. The American Samoa government has agreed to buy $30,000 worth of commercial time during the first year, $20,000 for the second year, and $10,000 for the third year. At present, it is costing the government $65,000 a year to operate the station. In American Samoa, Berger said his company would spend $25,000 immediately on capital improvements. The questions now being asked are, when will the Marine Railway, the television station and the Americana hotel be sold. There is already some opposition to the lease or sale of the Marine Railway, but support for the lease or sale of the Americana hotel. The costs of operating the KVZK television station may force the government to consider the lease or sale of that property soon.  
NoteWVUV moved from 1120 kHz to 648 kHz, reduced power from 10,000 watts to 5,000 watts because of power shortages, had its studios, staff and vehicles stoned by local Samoans angry at the noise of the generator needed to run the lower power, and eventually went silent in the mid 1990’s. At the same time, KSBS-FM began island wide broadcasts on FM. The owners of KSBS-FM reportedly returned WVUV to air in 2000 with very low power, but no reports of reception have been recorded. There are, reportedly, current plans to return the station to air with a full 10,000 watts. The American Samoa government, believing that KSBS-FM signals couldn’t reach all parts of American Samoa during emergencies, supported a bid by independent Samoa’s state station 2AP to open studios and an AM transmitter near Pago Pago. The FCC denied this move, claiming that 2AP was foreign owned and not permitted to operate in an American territory. Why the American Samoan government didn’t apply for its own licence and simply relay the 2AP program over it is unclear. This presumably would have cleared the ownership issue. In April 2002, a new AM station, WDJD-AM was scheduled to begin operations on 585 kHz with 5,000 watts. WVUV-AM remains either silent or on air with such low power as to be heard in the vicinity of the transmitter site only.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
(Visited 15 times, 1 visits today)
Share this to your favourite social media
Comments: 0

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *