The Publishers Association of Liberia (PAL) says the undue withholding of payments for legitimate media services rendered to government constitutes gross violations of international media rights, warning that the Liberian Government would risk being declared as media enemy number one.
Government's perpetual indebtedness to media institutions especially the print media dating as far back as 2006 is a deliberate scheme intended to strangulate and weaken the potency of the media in the performance of its duty as an effective watchdog of society.
"PAL views government insensitivity and unwillingness to settle its legitimate advertising bills as a deliberate scheme intended not only to strangulate but also weaken the potency of the media in the performance of its duty as an effective watchdog of society", said the PAL release.
The release issued in Monrovia signed by PAL's General Secretary James G. Kiazolu said government's persistent and protracted indebtedness to media institutions is undermining the economic viability of the media. The rather enraged Publishers said in the release that despite repeated assurances by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, government ministries and agencies have reneged on making settlement.
In the wake of the forgoing, the association has urged the Liberian government to timely and urgently settles its entire financial obligation to newspapers, to avert a possible blackout on all government activities, as the only available option to ensure payment.
The publishers made the decision at a general meeting over the weekend attended by nearly a dozen of newspapers owners to discuss the serious financial problem and the adverse effect on the media in Liberia.
In the wake of the foregoing, PAL has appealed to the public for its understanding and support during these times of sever financial difficulties, should it be forced to impose a blackout on Government for failing to settle its prolonged indebtedness to the media.