Jobs go as DeFontes closes
Island broadcaster DeFontes is to go off the airwaves at the end of next month.
Owner and president Kenneth DeFontes confirmed that the company will cease operations next month after 34 years.
A total of 19 people, five full time and 14 subcontractors, will lose their jobs.
A spokesman for Mr DeFontes said: “In a letter given to all staff today, Mr DeFontes offered his heartfelt thanks for all their hard work and loyalty throughout the past 34 years.
“He also said, however, that the broadcasting landscape over the more recent years has created a major financial challenge and he wished that it could be otherwise, but it cannot.”
Tony McWilliam, chairman of the Media Council working group, said: “The Media Council's immediate concern is for the welfare of VSB's full and part-time staff and we hope they are swiftly able to find work elsewhere.”
The veteran journalist and former editor of the Bermuda Sun, which closed last July, added: “For years, economic conditions have been tough in this industry, with media outlets competing against each other for the same advertising dollar. And when economies falter, firms are quick to curtail or axe advertising when pressured to reduce costs.
“Diversity of news media is important and the loss of yet another outlet in Bermuda is regrettable. It should also be seen as a challenge for those left in the game to redouble their efforts to provide accurate, fair and balanced news coverage.”
DeFontes' VSB-11 TV channel went off the air almost exactly a year ago.
The decision led to several staff losing their jobs and the loss of NBC coverage, as VSB was its affiliate station on the Island.
The firm blamed continuing losses owing to a fall in advertising revenue and the need for massive investment in technology for the closure of the television arm.
Mr DeFontes in 2014 agreed to sell the loss-making firm to businessman Spencer Conway, who was installed as interim CEO.
But Mr DeFontes pulled out of the deal and reassumed control after Mr Conway failed to come up with the cash.
The company's radio stations, which include Mix 106FM and 1450Gold continued to operate.