7 March 2019

Sierra Leone: IMC Levies Fines Against Defaulting Media Houses

The Independent Media Commission (IMC) yesterday levied fines ranging from Le500, 000, Le1, 000,000 and Le1, 500,000 respectively to some newspapers and Eastern Radio Station in Kono, who were found in breach of the commission's act of 2000 and the Media Code of Practice.

The fines, amounting to almost ten million Leones (Le10, 000,000), were as a result of complaints made against those media houses by members of the public and the commission's Monitoring Unit for publishing offending articles.

Some of the newspapers were ordered by the IMC to write an apology letter and also publish a retraction of the said stories.

The first set of ruling contains eight complaints that were investigated by the previous committee in mid-2018 but the IMC board was dissolved before they could be presented for approval. They were however, approved by the current board.

The second set also contains five complaints investigated by the present committee and approved by the board in February this year.

According to the Chairman of the Complaints Committee, Ansu Lansana Esq, the fines were levied following hearings from both the complainants and the offending newspapers and approval by the board.

He said the newspapers, including Comment, Prime Times, Torchlight, Health, Sierra Express Media and the Times-SL, were found wanting by the committee for breaching the Act and the commission's code of practice.

He admonished media practitioners to carry out their trade responsibly and within the ambit of the IMC Act and the Code of Practice.

In the case involving the Torchlight Newspaper, who was brought before the committee for publishing an article titled; "March polls ends in run-off... .Clean boy versus dorty boy", Mr. Lansana stated that a fine of Le1, 500,000 was imposed because of the failure of the Managing Editor to attend three of the four hearings to defend the said article.

Also, the legal luminary said the Nationalist newspaper was fined Le500, 000 for breaching the accuracy provision, according to Principle 3 of the IMC Code of Practice.

With regards compliant made by Dr. David Tam Baryoh against the Station Manager of Eastern Radio Station in Kono for an announcement made during a program that he was involved in an accident, the committee found that the broadcast breached the accuracy, truth and impartiality clause of the Media Code of Practice and a fine of one million Leones was levied.

Earlier, Chairman of the IMC, George Septimus Khoryama said: "As journalists, you are reminded to be professional and ethical in your coverage and reporting, in line with the IMC act of 2000 as amended and the Media Code of Practice of 2007."

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