Liberia: Punch FM Sues Government

A new commercial radio and television station Punch FM whose license was frozen by the government in June 2018 after importing equipment to begin operation, has sued the Ministry of Information, seeking declaratory judgment at the Civil Law Court for being denied the right to operate.

Immediate past state broadcaster LBS deputy director general Mr. Patrick Honnah is listed in the court document as the manager of Punch FM 106.3 MHz.

According to the complaint filed Tuesday, 15 October at 12:30 PM at the Civil Law Court, Punch FM's request for permit was granted on 10 January 2018 by the Ministry of Information and approved by its Minister Eugene Nagbe to operate a commercial radio station in the Republic of Liberia.

But Punch FM says in the complaint that while it began the installation of its equipment, the Ministry of Information on June 18, 2018 published a press release, announcing the suspension of all new operating licenses and authorizations issued to media operators from January 1 to June 18, 2018.

It is further detailed in the complaint that the suspension of the licenses which took effect as of Wednesday, January 20, 2018 was intended to review the regulatory regime due to technical and administrative anomalies including duplication of frequencies to radio and television operators and incorrect designations and submissions.

According to the complaint, the suspension of licenses affected not only Punch FM, but also Spoon FM.

However the complainant informs the court that unlike Punch FM, Spoon FM has since been allowed to operate while the complainant is being denied.Following the complaint, the Civil Law Court on Tuesday, 15 October ordered the Ministry of Information to appear in court on or before 17 [October] to answer to the petitioner's petition for declaratory judgment.The Court directs that the Ministry of Information files its formal appearance on or before 25 October.

Further, it says the respondents' resistance should be filed within 10 days upon the receipt of the petition for declaratory judgment, as failure to appear, a judgment by default will be rendered against them.

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