The Liberian Government, through the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, LTA, took many by surprise on Monday, July 4, 2016 when it closed down a local radio station – Voice FM during a live early morning phone-in show.
A sheriff from the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice, accompanied by plain clothed security agents, entered the main studio with two writs and interrupted the radio show for immediate closure. The legal action against Voice FM by the government was against the backdrop of the inability of the Management of the station to regularize the status of the station since two years ago (according to the LTA and Ministry of Information), following repeated warnings, even though Voice FM Management had earlier said it did pay its regularization fees into government covers at the Liberia Revenues Authority – something Deputy Information Minister Isaac Jackson continues to discount in what many see as a media campaign to justify the action.
A hastily-arranged MICAT Press briefing featuring three LTA Commissioners led by Acting Chairman Henry Benson further added a number of other radio and television stations, including LIB-24 TV (Love TV). In the wake of these situations, some Liberians and radio talk show hosts and other media practitioners have again “experts and judges” – of course, jumping into conclusion or passing on judgment, even at the time the management of Voice FM is yet to appear in consonance with the writ of summon.
And it’s all because of the un-necessary envies and undermining the Liberian media landscape – whose practitioners are mainly “young people”. Colleagues of Voice FM must allow hearing into the case to soberly analyze such based on the judgment of the court and not to be too sentimental and excited – only because of how they look at Voice FM talk show host – Henry Costa.
Current Liberian broadcast journalists must rise beyond these perceptional sentiments and pre-judgments of their colleagues without comparing notes at all levels of a particular contusing issue, other than behaving the way they do.
While the Liberian media may be under-capitalized, especially the manner and form media institutions are treated by the government in terms adverts and other supplements, practitioners of the profession must still rise above sentiments and avoid the un-necessary ‘media war’.
On the issue of Voice FM and LIB-Television, as well as others that may be shut down by the government, broadcasters must remain above the fray and wait for the final judgment by the court before analyzing, while it is also good to discuss such matter.