The New Dawn (Monrovia)

28 April 2014

Liberia: Finding Common Ground Through Constructive Engagements

The Government of Liberia recently threatened to revoke the licenses of media institutions not in compliance with its regulations. Initially, the Ministry of Information, through Deputy Information Minister for Public Affairs, Isaac Jackson, had announced in Monrovia that most media entities in country were not in compliance with the government's annual media registration, and that institutions failing to meet up with such annual regulation would be closed. The Telecommunications Authority or LTA, just last Thursday, April 24, 2014, also threatened the revoke the licenses of various radio stations in the country 'operating illegally'.

The LTA, through one of its Commissioners responsible licensing radio stations and other service providers, B. Anthony McCritty, told a MICAT news conference that since four months ago, some service providers have failed to engage the regulatory body, noting that the LTA was now moving ahead to revoke the licenses of institutions not in conformity with its regulations.

"The nation frequency is a scarce and limited resources; and because it is both scarce and limited, because we at the LTA have to be good stewards of assigning frequencies to those who are willing to stay current in their payments to the government of Liberia, the effectiveness is measured by those who adhere to our regulations those on our waiting-list willing to pay for frequencies," McCritty told journalists at the Ministry of Information last Thursday.

The pronouncements by the Government of Liberia seemed not to have gone down well with many media institutions, most especially radio stations. While some media institutions may be cautiously observing the process and at the same time, engaging in quiet diplomacy as the way forward, others consider the move by the government as one targeted at media entities perceived by the former as anti-government.

Be whatever it may, it is no secret that in Liberia- a country of law, institutions, organizations and businesses must subscribe to various established regulations/policies to guarantee their legality. In so doing, they go processes and commit themselves to such regulations/policies, including annual renewal of licenses. With such commitment on the part of media institutions, there should be no reason why an entity may choose to afford the regulatory body the opportunity to canalize on a situation such as it is, for such move.

While we may be in solidarity with our own situation regarding the threats issued by the government, through the Information Ministry and LTA, we should not have even allowed this to happen- Our priority must have been to ensure our annual license renewal to avoid coming into conflict with the government in any manner and form. Now that we at this stage, it may not all be lost- a common ground cab still be found. Such common ground entails constructively engaging the Information Ministry and LTA, through quit diplomacy, and not the so-called radical approach, which may also exacerbate the situation.

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