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Installing A Legislative Radio Station – Is A Dangerous Precedence

A radio station to be owned and run by the Liberian Legislature is expected to be installed by the end of October. This is evidenced by the budgetary allotment of more than Two-Hundred Thousand United States Dollars in the 2013/2014 National Budget by the House of Representatives.

Among justifications provided by proponents of the concept, including Montserrado County Representative Edwin Snowe and Speaker Alex Tyler was the lack of insufficient air-time to the “first branch of government” by the state-run Liberia Broadcasting System or LBS. These top officials of the Liberian Legislature had always accused the LBS of giving more air-time to the Executive Branch at no cost.

The head of Public Relations at the House of Representatives, Isaac Redd, further confirming the information, told a Power TV afternoon show last Friday that the radio station would further expand and detail information about the activities of members of the Liberian Legislature without restrictions/hindrances as experienced with LBS and other media outlets.

Whatever justifications Speaker Tyler, Representative Snowe and their likes may want Liberians-those they claim to represent, for the decision to establish such radio station may not be convincing enough to attract believability, especially so when there are crucial national programs that could be under-written by annual budgetary allotments to sustain the station’s operations, including salaries of its employees, as well as costs of fuel and equipment maintenance.

While Speaker Tyler, Representative Snowe and their likes may have had a genuine concern, installing a radio station at the Capitol will be a very dangerous precedence and also undermining the government’s communication policy, if there is any. Should the Legislature have any qualms with the Liberia Broadcasting System regarding coverage, it has the power to engage the LBS mismanagement/board or the President of Liberia as head of the Executive Branch. But to set up a parallel institution within the same government funded by state fund may not just be a dangerous precedence, but undermining to the government’s communication policy.

It would not be surprising, by the precedence being set by the Liberian Legislature, if the Judicial Branch should place in its 2014/2015 budget a very huge  allotment for the installation of a radio and television network under the guise of educating or providing an understanding of how the Judiciary works to the people of Liberia- what moral ground would the Liberian Legislature have to raise concern(s)?  Would they even have the moral rectitude to question ministries and agencies of government or public corporations and autonomous bureau for establishing their own radio or television stations?

Members of the House of Representatives and Liberian Senate have and continue to always have easy access not only the Liberia Broadcasting System, but all radio and TV stations transmitting news and other public affairs programs by recording and either their live  or phone-in appearances. And how can they now begin to complain about insufficiency of air-time?

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Again, this is a selfish and dangerous path on which the Liberian Legislature is thriving-something that would, in the future, embarrass their entire Liberian Government. This must be discouraged now or else, we foresee a future problem.

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