The Falkland Islands Government, Falkland Islands Media Trust and BBC World Service have signed an agreement to strengthen the development of a strong, modern and independent media environment on the Islands was announced Friday.
The agreement follows the decision to end the broadcast of the BBC World Service's twice-weekly 15 minute ?Calling the Falklands' programme. Friday, March 31 program has been announced as the final broadcast.
The agreement includes :
? The continued supply of BBC World Service programming, free of charge, for rebroadcast by the Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIRS) ? A fund to support training and development of FIRS staff to build capacity in the media sector of the islands ? The provision of technical advice in the areas of broadcasting and transmission to aid the future technical development of the Falklands' media sector ? A two year subscription to BBC Worldwide Radio International's package of 160 hours of annual programming (100 hours of spoken word and 60 hours of concert/pop programmes) to assist the transition to develop more original Falkland-based programming ? Closer cooperation between the Falkland Islands' media and appropriate counterpart BBC local services in the UK and Channel Islands.
Chris Simpkins, Chief Executive of the Falkland Islands Government says: "?Calling the Falklands' has become something of an institution and will always have a special place in the memories of Islanders since it has reported on all significant events in the modern history of the Islands. But the time has come to move on. The Media Trust is to be congratulated on its achievement in securing a new agreement with the BBC which will see a step change in programming and the future development of our community broadcasting station."
"Whilst all of us here in the Falklands will be sad to hear the last broadcast of ?Calling the Falklands', it is a positive sign that the Falklands is maturing both as a nation and also more specifically in media terms", indicated Richard Sawle of the Falkland Islands Media Trust.
"We used to have to place reliance on programmes such as ?Calling the Falklands' to tell us what was happening in the outside world ? where the threats were coming from, who our friends were, and any other news that might be of relevance or interest to us. ?Calling the Falklands' was our link to outside realities. Time moves on though, and now we have instant news via the radio and television, a fully independent and locally produced newspaper and finally, of course, access to the internet and satellite TV stations," he added.
"The agreement we have reached with the BBC is an exciting one. We will be taking part in a full programme of training and looking at what modern technology might have to offer us. The radio station staff will have on-going training courses with the BBC and there will be more BBC programming made available to us. The Media Trust and everyone at FIRS are very grateful indeed for the support of ?Calling the Falklands' in the past and for the increased support and real partnership that we will now be having with the BBC for the future."
Nigel Chapman, Director BBC World Service said: "This new agreement builds on the strong historical ties between the BBC and the Falkland Islands' broadcasting sector; and will help the development of media on the islands. We'd like to thank the teams who have worked on ?Calling the Falklands' over the years. But we believe this agreement will better serve Islanders in the multi-media age and will help speed the Falkland Islands Radio Service's growing maturity as a vital home grown element in the wide ranging Falklands' media sector," he says.
History "Calling The Falklands" began in 1944 as a weekly compilation of record requests and personal messages from friends and relatives to the islanders. During Argentina's invasion of the Islands in 1982, it became a daily programme and assumed great importance for providing information about the political and military developments on the Islands as well as in Britain and Argentina.
Since the conflict, "Calling the Falklands" has become a regular transmission of news of interest to the islanders, featuring a press review, extracts from Parliamentary debates and personal messages from friends and relatives.
The radio service in the Falklands was originally available through a wired loudspeaker into Stanley homes known as "the box".
The Islands radio station currently have five full time employees and is under the responsibility of the Media Trust, making it even more independent of the local Government.