Power TV CEO Slams Liberia Telecommunications Authority

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Monrovia – Veteran Liberian journalist, Aaron Kollie, says the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) is incompetent to serve as a regulatory body for radio and television stations.

“The Liberia Telecommunication Authority, just by its nomenclature as structure, is not effectively positioned, nor qualified—not in terms of academic credentials but as a body to handle such a specialized sector,” Mr. Kollie said at the close of a two-day “Media Law and Regulatory Reform Stakeholders Conference at the P.A. Rib House in Sinkor.

According to him, the LTA has become derelict in its function as broadcast regulator and has instead focused its attention heavily in the telecommunications arena, saying it is only interested in spectrum and registration fees. This, he says, has to be changed

He noted that the norm of annual registration introduced by the LTA is not appropriate and needs to be shifted, urging the adaptation of practice in other jurisdictions where licenses are given three to five year authorization.

Mr. Kollie stressed that with the aid of social media and better necessities, the media will push through documents and advocate for the replacement of government regulatory review involving the Ministry of Information which, he maintains, has lost its relevance.

The Liberian Journalist wants government demonstrates positive things by embarking on the process of deregulation, where the Ministry of Information will cease the collection of annual license and registration fees from broadcast houses in Liberia as a means of enabling a proper reform in the media.

“The establishment of an independent broadcast regulator will truly be a moment for the creation of clean and professional broadcasting in Liberia,” he said.

“It will serve as a vehicle not just to monitor but protect the industry and ensure compliance from media owners as well as having the power to grant authorization and not license”, he added

Mr. Kollie said the free press in Liberia cannot be measured by the proliferation of media houses but rather the formation of laws and policies that safeguard press freedom in line with constitutional foundation.

“The establishment of an independent broadcast regulator for Liberia is not negotiable and not just an integral part but an indispensable success of Liberia’s current democratic dispensation which directly allows a free and open society.”

Absence of policy creates risk

But LTA Chairperson, Ms. Angelique Weeks, also at the conference, says the absence of a regulatory policy framework to set standards for monitoring and ensuring compliance creates risk for abuse and disorder in the media circle which the country cannot afford to bear.

She said since the establishment of the Liberia Telecommunications Authority, the entity has been functioning properly, relative to regulation and has the adequate skills and manpower to implement its function.

 “Today, the broadcast media in the large number of African countries is never in common with that of the past.  Radio remains the dominant medium of mass information dissemination as compare to televisions and newspaper for hard to reach sectors,” upbeat Weeks said.

She noted that the proliferation of several media houses across Liberia has created pressure on the LTA. A situation, she maintains, which can only be properly guided with the LTA serving as the regulator.

Willie N. Tokpah — [email protected]

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