Liberia: Regulators to Shut Down 'Illegal' Radio, TV Stations

Regulation & Policy

Barely a week and the half to the celebration of World Press Freedom Day, the Liberia Telecommunication Authority has threatened to shut down radio and Television stations, it considers illegally operating.

"There are some radio stations that are operating without any reference to the LTA whatsoever, they are illegal, and those entities we will shut you down completely," LTA Commissioner of the Licensing, regulations Anthony McCritty warned. Commissioner McCritty who was accompanied by the Chairperson of the LTA Angelique Weeks made the pronouncement at the Ministry of Information regular press briefing.

McCritty fail to name the radio and Television stations the LTA considers illegal and intend to close. McCritty added Liberia's frequency is scare and the LTA will protect it from violators. According to McCritty, there are people and organizations on the LTA waiting list who are willing to pay for frequency that other are delinquent in paying.

Commissioner McCritty said, the LTA gives delinquent small service provider assigned spectrum frequency thirty days notice, adding that the delinquent parties fail to adhere to LTA regulation. McCritty continues: "In November last year we gave them 30 days notice to conform. It has been four months now and some providers still have not contacted us."

He said the thirty-day notice was for radio, TV and VSAT operator to update and regularize their licenses. "This process includes getting the necessary permission for TV and radio service providers from the Ministry of Information."

"This is a public warning that the LTA is moving ahead to revoke licenses of those entities that are not in conformity," McCritty added. McCritty said that media houses cannot operate in total disregard to the LTA regulations adding that such act is theft and robbing the nation of much needed revenue.

The LTA Commissioner said the duration of each license is not more than twelve months add that it should be renewed each year. McCritty named Commercial radio station, non-commercial radio station and Community Radio Station as how radio and television stations are classified and licensed.

According to McCritty, Last year the LTA issued seventeen new class licenses and renewed forty-four. "The LTA is responsible for allotting frequencies after permits have been secured and then we do our due diligence."

This involves verifying the permit, doing a thorough business registration background check and then the assignment of frequency based on availability. McCritty said, the LTA will invite delinquent parties to ask them, and give them an opportunity to show cause why the LTA should not revoke their license. Before the pronouncement by the LTA of its new measures against medal houses, the LTA has already begun inviting media outlets.

The Liberia Telecommunication Authority with the Ministry of Information cited Henry Costa and his partners to a conference on Thursday to provide reasons why his newly radio station license of 102.7 should not be revoked.

In the Communication the LTA said, the invitation is part of its core function among which is the establishment of measures to enforce the implementation of the Telecommunication act and to prohibit certain kind of conduct contrary to the orderly development and regulation of the sector.

Source: FrontPageAfrica - AL-Varney Rogers, 25 April 2014