28 March 2014

Liberia: Sources Hint - LBS Off the Air Due to Lack of Fuel

Credible sources has hinted the Heritage that Liberians awoke Wednesday morning to the deafening airwaves of the Liberia Broadcasting System's media outlets, ELBC Radio (99.9FM) and the Liberia National Television (LNTV), two of the National Broadcaster.

The LBS also hosts a number of international media relay technical setups that enable these international broadcasters to reach Liberians with quality news and information from across the globe.

The renowned British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Radio France International, (RFI) and the China Radio International radio transmissions were all off; Also off was the China Commercial Television(CCTV) Digital Television Pilot Project Transmission System.

According to our sources at the state-owned National Broadcaster, these vital communications outlets simply off because of the lack of fuel to power the system's two major generators.

When quizzed as to why a major national asset like LBS did not have fuel to operate, the sources responded, that the management had told employees that allocations from the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Finance was simply inadequate and in most case not forth-coming.

While the LBS Management is yet to confirm this, our sources further said that the LBS Management, a cream of young professionals recruited from amongst the country's best broadcast administrators, having served with distinctions in previous posts, while working at private ventures have been unable to convinced their employers of the need to provide adequate financial support to this all important national communication asset.

Our sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Board of Directors is fully aware of the financial state of affairs and have had meetings with the Finance Minister who is also a statutory member, but the situation remains unchanged.

"I tell you this from an insiders' viewpoint, LBS Present budget of a little over Eight hundred thousand United States Dollars is grossly inadequate to operate LBS main central complex in Monrovia which has all these major technical installations along with six of its regional sub-stations dotted through Liberia," lamented our sources.

I'm close to the management and work quietly behind the scenes with them trying to lobby the Executive and Legislature to pay a little more attention to this very important, but forgotten national instrument, however, I get the impression that policy makers are more keen on spending the country's resources on private media ventures and personal communication initiatives, then the national broadcaster that serves all." Our sources furthered.

"The Young guys have been performing miraculously well, from all indications. Restoring the public confidence in the ELBC Radio through quality news and informative programs, while at the same time, re-launching a new television outfit(LNTV) with very little support from the government," our sources intimated.

Our sources said partnership fees from CRI, BBC, RFI and CCTV, have been the major financial platform that has been keeping the national broadcaster running in the last nine months, especially since the slash of the system's 2012/13 fiscal budget and that of this current budget from 1.2million United States dollars to a little over eight hundred thousand dollars.

Our reporter, who visited LBS Paynesville offices Wednesday, saw the workers conjugated in sub-groups discussing about the government lack of adequate funding of the state broadcaster.

However, they were quick to dispel any notion that the LBS was being mismanaged by the current management, which is headed by Mr. Ambrose Nmah.

Our reporter observed that the compound was quiet as the 450 KVA and 150KVA generators were silent.

He said there was no sign of power in the offices and so majority of the employees were out in the compound awaiting Management's instructions.

"It is worth noting that there are visible signs of improvements at the state broadcaster, but much more need to be done requiring adequate financial support from the Liberian Government.

The Liberian Government must make LBS a national priority as public communication is vital to national development especially as it battles to win public support for its many national development programs," our sources added.

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