20 June 2018

Liberia: PUL Shocks Over Govt's Decision To Suspend Media Licenses

The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) says it is shocked by the latest action of the government to suspend operating licenses of some media outlets citing technical and administrative irregularities in the acquisition of the permit to operate.

The Government of Liberia on Monday, June 18, 2018 announced the suspension of all media licenses issued between January 1 and June 18, 2018.

It indicated that during the period duplication of frequencies to radio and television operators, and incorrect designations and submissions occurred, warranting immediate revision of its regulatory regime.

According to the Information of Ministry, new frequencies and operating licenses would be issued following the review process, which it says will commence on tomorrow, June 20.

But the Union said its astonishment is rooted in government's abrupt move to introduce another difficult twist to ongoing media reform initiatives aimed at enabling the legal and operational environment of the Media in Liberia without the inclusion of views from stakeholders and experts in the sector.

"The Union welcomes the government's attempt to clean up its own system but disagrees with arbitrary and targeted actions. There must be fixed timeline attached to the pronounced review and list of media outlets affected made public to determine what it is setting out to achieve," PUL President Charles B. Coffey, Jr. stressed.

The Press Union of Liberia said it "is careful that this could be the reintroduction of the old Sirleaf Administration tactics employed to intimidate section of the media in Liberia into silence."

Two radio stations remained shut down after a crackdown successfully executed by government under the guise of tax collection enforcement.

The Press Union insists that media pluralism and critical voices must be embraced as the bedrock of the growing Liberian Democracy and at the same time advices against the selective application of the law and machinations aimed at restricting participation in the media industry.

These actions profiles Liberia in an unfortunate manner internationally, the PUL lamented, noting that administrative decision must always consider the greater good of the public.

Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia is calling on all media institutions concerned to act within the confines of the law as it is engaging authorities at the very top of government to end the impasse.

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