New Prosser Company to Buy Majority in Belize Phone Company, The Virgin
Islands Daily News http://www.site05.web1.cpsgpublishing.com/index.pl/article_home?id=278404
Innovative Communication's Prosser Says Internet Must Not Compete With
Headquartered in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Innovative is the
largest independent and privately owned telephone company in the U.S.
ICC is a diversified telecom and media company with extensive interests
in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Sint Maarten, Saint-Martin,
Guadeloupe, Martinique and France.
Columbia Journalism Review http://archives.cjr.org/year/98/1/gannett.asp
Gannett's Sellout in Paradise
(see attached picture) Jeffrey Prosser, right, who makes much of his
money from a phone-sex business, met in September with employees of the
Virgin Island Daily News, the prizewinning newspaper that has been his
longtime critic, and that he is now buying from the Gannett chain.
(photo: virgin islands daily news/Hillary Hodge)
by Mark Hunter
Hunter's most recent book is Le Journalisme D'Investigation, a
comparison of investigative reporting in the U.S. and France.
Gannett may have several million reasons to sell the Virgin Islands
Daily News to Jeffrey L. Prosser, but do they add up? Prosser, a
forty-one-year-old financier, has cut a wide and controversial swath
through the islands, becoming in the process one of the principal
targets of the Daily News, a small but stellar daily. The big chain is
handing the leash of a fine watchdog over to a man at whom the dog was
The Daily News is the dominant voice in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and
even its critics there -- like Tito Morales, president of the
territory's Central Labor Council -- consider it an irreplaceable source
of essential news. "There's a lot of things they do that aren't positive
for the community," Morales says, but "there's things they say that need
to be said." Professional colleagues tend to agree with the latter. The
St. Thomas-based paper has been honored with a startling list of prizes,
including a public service Pulitzer (in 1995), a Selden Ring, several
Investigative Reporters & Editors and Sigma Delta Chi Awards -- and
thirteen "Best of Gannett" awards just since 1991.
Along the way, in a territory with a total population of about 109,000,
the News's circulation has risen from 6,000 in 1979 -- when Gannett
bought it for $3.5 million -- to about 16,000 today. Hurricane Marilyn
in 1995 wreaked havoc with the local economy, but Ron Dillman, the
paper's c.e.o., says things are looking up. "You ever see a Gannett
paper that wasn't profitable?" he says. "We were -- and are --
profitable." Dillman says he first heard that his paper had been sold to
Prosser on the radio.
And how does Prosser make his money? Among other things, if Gannett's
executives read the SEC filings of Prosser's company, Atlantic Tele
Network (ANK), they would know that a declining but major source of
ANK's revenue consists of about 8 million minutes per month of
"audiotext" traffic, through its Guyanan subsidiary, GT&T. This is
900-number telephone traffic, on which callers pay for entertainment or
information. While Prosser's spokesman, Ed Crouch, says the traffic
includes services about such subjects as "psychics and sports cars," he
concedes that "a substantial percentage" of it comes from sex calls.
Innovative Telephone Gets 17% Rate Increase -- First In 18 Years http://www.discount-long-distance-services.com/081903-3.asp
VITELCO/Innovative Telephone Company Deploys DSL Services To Unserved
Rate Investigation: http://www.senate.gov.vi/BillTracking/Bills/24-0060.pdf
BILL NO. 24-0060
TWENTY-FOURTH LEGISLATURE OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
OF THE UNITED STATES
To amend title 30, section 20, Virgin Islands Code, pertaining to rate
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone, formerly know as "Vitelco", is a
of ICC and the major supplier of commercial and residential telephone
service in the
Virgin Islands; and
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone is a utility subject to regulation by the
Islands Public Services Commission hereinafter referred to as (PSC); and
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone has been a monopoly in the Virgin Islands
over 25 years, without sharing its consumer market with any competitors;
WHEREAS, by virtue of its status as a monopoly and utility, Innovative
Telephone has realized profits in the millions of dollars over the
WHEREAS, very little of Innovative Telephone's profits are returned to
community by way of industrial development of civic and community
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone has been a beneficiary of the Industrial
Development Commission (hereinafter referred to as IDC) for a number of
years, up to
September 1996; and
WHEREAS, not long ago Innovative Telephone filed an application for an
extension of and approval of additional tax exemptions from the IDC; and
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone in 1997 received from the IDC the
tax exemptions; 90% Income Tax, 100% Gross Receipts Tax, 100% Property
83.3% Customs Duty; and
WHEREAS, the majority of Virgin Islanders believe that the tax
Innovative Telephone were not necessary since Innovative Telephone is
regulated by the
PSC which determines a reasonable profit margin for Innovative Telephone
setting of reasonable telephone rates; and
WHEREAS, the Legislature of the Virgin Islands voted unanimously to
the PSC to reduce Innovative Telephone's rates by 20%; and
WHEREAS, the granting of the tax exemptions by the IDC to Innovative
Telephone was not conditioned nor coupled with a rate decrease with the
loss of revenues
to the Government; and
WHEREAS, it is the feeling and will of the Legislature that the citizens
Virgin Islands, who are Innovative Telephone's customers should also
benefits as a result of the tax exemptions granted; and
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone sets aside $600,000 a year for rate
investigations and if not utilized will be returned to Innovative
Telephone as profits; and
WHEREAS, a rate investigation has not been conducted since 1992; and
WHEREAS, Innovative Telephone has charged consumers $2 million per year
for insurance that the utility never purchased; and
WHEREAS, the PSC acted illegally in dismissing the Legislature's request
without a full hearing; and
WHEREAS, a preliminary rate investigation was made by Georgetown
Consulting Group and that investigation proved that a full rate
investigation is warranted
and that the ratepayer could be owed as much as $50 million;
BE IT ENACTED by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands:
SECTION 1. Title 30, chapter 1, section 20, Virgin Islands Code, is
designating the existing language as subsection (a) and adding
subsection (b) to read as
"(b) Commencing July 30, 2001, the Commission shall conduct rate
investigations of all regulated utilities biennially and hold formal
hearings as required
under subsection (a) of this section."
Thus passed by the Legislature of the Virgin Islands on April 9, 2001.
On September 10, 2001, pursuant to section 1.716 of the Commission's
C.F.R. § 1.716, AT&T Corp. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, AT&T of the
Virgin Islands, Inc. (collectively, "AT&T") filed an informal complaint
against Virgin Islands Telephone
Corporation d/b/a Innovative Telephone ("Vitelco").1 AT&T alleges that
Vitelco has violated section 201(b) of the Communications Act of 1934,
as amended ("the Act"), 47 U.S.C. § 201(b), and the Commission's rules
regarding the maximum allowable rate-of-return for local exchange
carriers in 47 C.F.R. § 65.700 et seq. According to a proposed order
attached to a joint motion filed by the parties on September 10, 2001,
"Vitelco is expected to respond to the complaint by denying all of the
allegations in the complaint and claiming it has no liability to AT&T."
AT&T's claims are in key respects similar to claims presented by GCI
Communications in a formal complaint on which the Commission ruled in
favor of the complainant.3 That ruling is now under review by the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ("D.C. Circuit").4
3. Because the outcome of that appeal is likely to affect the resolution
informal complaint, and to conserve the resources of the parties and the
Commission, the parties submitted a joint motion, on September 10, 2001,
proposing that the Commission require Vitelco not to respond to AT&T's
informal complaint until ninety (90) days after the D.C. Circuit's
decision on the merits in ACS of Anchorage, Inc. v. FCC, Case No.
01-1059, has become final and appellate remedies have been exhausted.5
(Appellate review still seems to be on-going in connection with the
filing by AT&T as well as others very similar to it, so no final
decision seems to have yet been made. World Comm filed a similar
ICC: OVILU no longer exists
By Jamie Bate, St. Thomas Source, 29 November 2000
In the continuing battle over the representation of 24 St. Croix Cable
TV employees, Innovative Communication Corp. officials Tuesday declared
that the Our Virgin Islands Labor Union, which the cable workers voted
unanimously to join last year, no longer exists. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43/270.html
In his opposition plaintiff asserts that Prosser is a party defendant
and has been sued in his individual capacity based upon his personal
Plaintiff argues that Prosser's motive and intent are critical elements
that such information is only w ithin Prosser's control and cannot be
other deponents. Per plaintiff's partial opposition, plaintiff' s theory
is that his
" transfer w as not a reorganization but a fraud upon the Industrial
Committee (sic) to pad VITELCO's employee list in order to meet the
number of required employees to maintain VITELCO' s IDC benefits."
answer repeatedly asserts that plaintiff' s transfer to VITELCO was part
consolidat ion of the marketing functions for all ICC companies. http://www.vid.uscourts.gov/dcopinion/Nyfield2x.pdf
Finally, Prosser's assertion that the plaintiff failed to
proffer sufficient facts to show that he had personal knowledge
of the allegedly injurious corporate acts is baseless. As the
party seeking a protective order, Prosser carried the burden
before the Magistrate Judge to demonstrate that "good cause"
exists for protecting him from deposition discovery. FED. R. CIV.
P. 26(c); Glenmede Trust Co. v. Thompson, 56 F.3d 476, 483 (3d
Cir. 1995). "'Good cause'" is established when it is specifically
demonstrated that disclosure will cause a clearly defined and
serious injury." Id. (citing Pansy v. Borough of Stroudsburg, 23
F.3d 772, 786 (3d Cir. 1994). Further, "[b]road allegations of
harm, unsubstantiated by specific examples, however, will not
suffice." Id. As noted by Magistrate Judge Resnick, Prosser
did not aver lack of knowledge of the disputed matters, which are
clearly relevant to the plaintiff's allegations. In any event,
given the full record properly before the Magistrate Judge, this
Court agrees that Mr. Prosser failed to carry his burden of
demonstrating "good cause" as required by Rule 26(c). http://www.vid.uscourts.gov/dcopinion/99ci202.stx.appeal.pdf
More labor violation charges leveled at ICC
By Jamie Bate, St. Thomas Source, 29 November 2000
The two dozen St. Croix Cable TV employees locked out of their jobs by
Innovative Communication Corp. a week ago took up positions outside
ICC's brand new building Monday to protest the company's order that they
join the United Steelworkers union. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/43/269.html
The Six Percent Advisory Fee
Under an Advisory Services Agreement signed in 1991, GT&T paid ATN an
annual fee for management services of six percent of its gross revenues.
From 1991 to 1997, the fees totalled US$38 million from gross revenues
of US$762 million. What is particularly troubling about this arrangement
is that, in addition to the six percent fee, GT&T is required to pay for
all the costs involved in the provision of the services. The fee is
payable even if no services are provided.
It is an extraordinarily generous give-away to ATN
A similar arrangement between ATN and VITELCO, its Virgin Islands
telephone subsidiary, was prohibited by the Virgin Islands Public
Service Commission. In the USA., such schemes have been prohibited since
the 1930s. Why ATN has been allowed to exploit GT&T and its ratepayers
in such naked fashion all these years is beyond comprehension. GT&T and
ATN have contended that the Purchase Agreement gives GT&T the right to
the six percent fee. This claim is absolutely false. http://www.landofsixpeoples.com/news/ns10305.htm
PAY DIRT!! PROSSER DEAL GIVES GOVT. WORKERS LAND INSTEAD OF MONEY
by Nom D. Plume
ST. CROIX, USVI - Government workers waiting for their retroactive
pay have finally hit pay dirt - literally. Mega-gajillionaire Jeffrey
Prosser wants to give the VI government 1000 acres of Carambola for
past-due wages. But with more than 7,000 employees owed money,
somebody's going to be left holding the bag - of soil!
The proposed deal calls for the land to be divided into 2800
parcels, which means less than 40-percent of those owed money will get a
piece of property. Government officials are currently trying to figure
out a way to satisfy everyone.
One possible solution is to have a land rush similar to those used
to settle the American West. All seven-thousand employees workers will
stand shoulder to shoulder at a starting line. When a cannon is fired,
the crowd will all run as fast as they can to grab a piece of land. To
make things fair, retired government workers will be given a five-second
The Legislature and the Executive Branch have also hammered out a
plan to satisfy St. Thomas residents who say they don't want to build a
home on St. Croix. St. Thomians who take property instead of money will
be allowed to dig up their land and take it back with them.
In exchange for the Carambola acreage, Prosser's Innovative
Communications Corp. and all of its subsidiaries will get a free ride
from taxes for 30-years and avoid the scrutiny of IDC hearings. Even
though the intimate details of the proposal have yet to be learned, some
senators and radio talk show hosts have already endorsed the deal.
Critics have named this phenomenon "Prossertution". "Part of the problem
in the Virgin Islands is that we have too many Prossertutes who are
willing to do anything for the right price," said one observer.
The amount of land each employee receives depends on how much
money they are owed by the government. According to estimates, some will
receive a full acre of land, while others will get no more than a Ziploc
bag full of dirt.
Labor leaders say most of the rank and file members want money
instead of land. "What the hell are people supposed to do with a baggy
full of soil?", asked one Union representative. "If this is such a good
deal, then I guess it'll be OK to use handfuls of dirt to pay my phone
and cable bills."
In fact, local officials are currently considering other ways to
use land-for-money swaps. They are hoping to offer VI government-owned
land to the Federal Government as payment for their overdue FEMA loans.
Later this month, the Senate will vote on legislation to change the
official currency of the Virgin Islands from the US Dollar to dirt. If
the bill passes, Carambola soil will be considered legal tender and will
be available in 50, 20, 10 and 5 flowerpot denominations.
ALL CIRCUITS BUSY: VITELCO HAS SOLUTION - DON'T CALL
by Nom D. Plume
ST. THOMAS, USVI - Have you become frustrated while trying to make
a call and you keep getting the "all circuits are busy" message? Are you
a business owner who's been losing out on big sales because you can't
get through to the credit card authorization center? Are you still
trying to call loved ones in the states to wish them a Merry Christmas?
Fear not, the Virgin Islands Telephone Corporation has the solution for
your problems: DON'T CALL!
That's right, VITELCO officials say they don't have enough lines
for their customers, so if you want to reach out and touch someone,
you'd better do it in person. Last week the company issued a press
release recommending that people refrain from calling because their
system is inadequate and upgrading it will cost money.
According to a VITELCO spokesperson, the situation is the result
of equipment malfunction: "Basically we have a situation where the doo
dads attached to the doo hickeys are not coagulating with the
thingamabobs. In addition, the whatchamacallits on the whosiewhaty
cannot jive with the knick knack paddy whacks", said the spokesperson.
"We would like to assure the public that we are actively looking
for somebody else to blame this on. We hope to rectify the problem
eventually. In the meantime, tough nookies."
Political observers say they find it interesting that the
situation has persisted for several weeks, yet Senator Alicia "Chucky"
Hansen has not threatened VITELCO with lawsuit the way she did to AT&T.
Hansen took action against AT&T after it was unable to provide long
distance service for 12 hours after hurricane Georges. A Hansen staffer
responded, saying there is no favoritism involved. "If right now the
election was 1 month away, the Senator would sue VITELCO as well."
Sir Shridath Ramphal, Belize's Facilitator in the Belize/Guatemala
Facilitation, is a member of the Board of Directors of Innovative
Communication Corporation, whose directors are:
Jeffrey J. Prosser
Lt. General Samuel E. Ebbesen
Richard N. Goodwin
Sir Shridath Ramphal
John P. Raynor
Sir Ronald Michael Sanders
Sources: http://www.belize-guatemala.gov.bz/press_releases/10_07_2002.html http://corporate-law.widener.edu/documents/complaints/16415-063.pdf http://www.iccvi.com/company-board.htm