Channel 7 – Telemedia & Mike Duncker Battle Over Intelco Towers

February 23, 2008

 Original Story:
18 galvanized self supporting steel towers are the only remnants of the multi-million Intelco disaster that are still standing. They are the biggest of their kind in Belize, and the towers are estimated to be worth millions. But tonight there is a war brewing over who owns them. In one corner it is cable investor Mike Duncker and in the other is Telemedia. Duncker claims that he bought the land that the towers are built on last year at an auction. But Telemedia, which at some point assumed a portion of Intelco’s debt to mop up government’s mess, has staked a legal claim on the same towers. So yesterday they sent work crews to dismantle, what the company says are “its towers.” But are they really? Not according to Mike Duncker.

Keith Swift Reporting,
This is the 240 foot steel tower at mile 8 which Telemedia employees and contractors attempted to dismantle this morning.

Mike Duncker, Has Title to Land
“We came here and we saw quite a few men, maybe nine or ten men from BTL, of the strong arm type, a lot of them of the strong armed type, and we ask what they are going to do and they said they were sent by BTL and if we had questions to call BTL. We had the title which they said they don’t care about, they said we would have to deal with BTL – not them.”

When he arrived at noon – the workers were leaving – and the tower was still standing. Mike Duncker bought the tower and the land it sits at a DFC auction last year. This title proves that he owns it.

Mike Duncker,
“We went to a public auction and bought land with fixtures. Yesterday my son came by and BTL had started to dismantle this tower. He went for a policeman who told them to stop and leave as he showed the policeman title for the land. They left. This morning we were coming back into town and we noticed that at La Democracia where we have another tower they had an armed BDF man and two KBH men – one of which was also armed. We got the policemen and had them removed as they could show no ownership and we were able to show clear ownership.”

Keith Swift,
You showed us the fact that you have title for the land, but does that also mean that you own the tower?

Mike Duncker,
“We bought it with all fixtures on the land.”

The tower at Mile 8 is a part of a network of 18 towers that Duncker bought – which were previously owned by Intelco. Duncker says his company plans to do what Intelco didn’t – and he suspects that is why Telemedia wants to pull down his towers.

Keith Swift,
Why do they want your tower down?

Mike Duncker,
“I think that it will top the competition that they know is coming and they recognize that we will pose a very serious threat to them with internet telephone and video eventually. So I am very surprised that a company like that using strong armed tactics that they are using but I think they just want to stop competition before it can get going.”

Again Mike Duncker says he owns the land and by extension the towers. That was news to Telemedia’s Manager of Marketing and Sales Karen Bevans. She says they have a legal claim on the property and they were dismantling the towers to take south to continue setting up the company’s wireless network.

Bevans says the company knows nothing of Duncker’s plan to establish a wireless network and furthermore she says that Telemedia announced its intention for a wireless network in Southern Belize in October of 2007 – long before Duncker made his plans known. She says that if Mike Duncker does have titles to the properties, he should show it to Telemedia. Failing that, Bevans says the company will proceed with its plan to dismantle all the towers and take them south to be reassembled for what she termed “the benefit of their customers” in southern Belize. Duncker has said that he tried unsuccessfully to meet with Telemedia’s Boss Dean Boyce.


Reporter – Corporate fight brewing over ownership of telecom towers

February 23, 2008

Original Story

By Adolph Lucas Jr. – Staff Reporter

A corporate fight is brewing between powerhouse Telemedia Ltd. and Southern Cable Net investor Mike Duncker over eighteen steel towers once owned by Intelco.

Cable Investor Mike Duncker claims that he bought the land with the towers from the DFC at auction. But Telemedia, the telephone giant, insist that the towers belong to them.

Darren Duncker told the Reporter that the row over the tower occurred on Monday 11 February over the 240 foot steel tower located at Mile 8. Eight employees of Telemedia were in the process of taking down the tower, piece by piece. The police stepped in to stop .

“The tower and the land were bought at a DFC auction last year.” Dunker said. The title papers prove that Mike Dunker owns them.

On Tuesday, February 12 at La Democracia, where there is another tower we saw armed BDF ean and two KBH men – one of which was also armed,” Darren Duncker told Reporter.

The Dunckers’ had to call in the police again and the BDF and KBH guards were removed because Duncker was able to show proof that he had bought the land and all of the erections thereon.

The dispute continued on Thursday 14 February, Valentine’s Day. The Dunckers had placed locks on the building. They claim that BTL had sent men to break these locks and install their own locks.

Hezron Cadle, a director of Southern Cable Net Ltd told the Reporter, “B.T.L has no right to enter those premises. We own all the Intelco Towers.”

The tower at Mile 8 is a part of a network of 18 towers formerly owned by Intelco.

Duncker bought the land and the erections at a public auction authorized by the Development Finance Corporaton. Southern Cable Net Limited has plans to do what -20Intelco tried to do and failed. Southern Cable wants the network of towers for a networ of cellularl phones it intend to introduce.

According to Cadle, Southern Cable Net has a system which is far superior to B.T.L’s system. The company plans to introduce a telephone network using voice over Internet protocol or VOIP. It plans to take on BTL in head-on competition.

The Reporter has made several attempts to contact Telemedia’s Manager of Marketing and Sales, Mrs. Karen Bevans for comments, but was unable to reach her.

Reporter – Barrow’s Cabinet takes Oath of Office

February 23, 2008

Original Story:

By Niall Gillett – News Editor

Governor General Sir Colville Young swars in the new Cabinet comprised of 12 Ministers and five assistants at his residence in Belmopan.

The 16 chosen Ministers and Ministers of State of the new United Democratic Party Government were sworn in today, Tuesday February 12, at the residence of the Governor General in the Capital City, Belmopan.

Crammed into the small welcoming room with their families, friends and the media, they officially took on the tasks of their portfolios with a signature and a handshake from the Governor General, Sir Colville Young.

They walked down the curved driveway to be reunited with and to be greeted by crowds of their supporters, waiting to congratulate them. That afternoon, the leaders of the new government met in the Cabinet Room to begin the first official business of the day.

The programme started at about 10:15 AM with the entrance of the Governor General, Sir Colville Young. He noted that although it is not a big priority on the Government’s list, the tightly packed room needed to be made bigger.

For expediency, he asked that all swear the Oath together, rather than one at a time, and then invited each member individually to sit at the table for the signing.

After the signatures were all complete, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who was sworn in last Friday, addressed the Governor General and thanked him, reaffirming his pledge to have his Government conduct itself in an open, fair and transparent manner.

In an interview with Prime Minister Barrow after the ceremony, he told the Reporter that he and the members of Cabinet would start their first meeting discussing the various Rules and Articles of Conduct of the Cabinet.

He said it was important for the members to treat not only their fellow colleagues with mutual respect, but also the members of the Public Service. He said that they would also have an overview of Belize’s financial situation to presented by the Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight, a leftover from the previous government.

He said his administration would attempt to set a date for the inaugural First sitting of the National Assembly.

Asked about the promise for lower fuel costs, Prime Minister Barrow responded that it was his government’s plan to do away with the current Revenue Replacement Duty.

RRD on fuel, and replace it with fairer, flat tax.

He explained that this could be done in the first 90 days of the new government, provided that all legal requirements to make the changes are met.

He confirmed his pledge – to empower the Public Utilities Commision (PUC), and make changes to the currently restricted use of Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) technology in Belize.

Finally Prime Minister Barrow repeated his promise to keep the public informed about decisions made by his government, and to improve relations with the media.

Prime Minister Barrow said that he had originally conceived of four Ministers of State, but after Michael Hutchinson had done what he did in defeating the PUP incumbent, Ralph Fonseca, he promptly revised his plan and appointed him to be a Minister of State.

Hutchinson will serve as Minister of State in the Ministry of Local Government, which is headed by Minister Garbriel Martinez.