House Passes Community Radio Act

The House of Representatives has at long last passed the proposed “Rural Community Radio Stations Sustainability Act of 2012” into Law, and forwarded it to the Liberian Senate for concurrence.

The Act, which seeks to promote the decentralization of information to rural dwellers, was passed on Tuesday following the reading of a report submitted to Plenary by its Joint Committee on Information, Culture and Tourism, and Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary.

Under the Act, the Liberian government will, through budgetary allocations, provide support for the rural radio stations which play very critical role in informing rural inhabitants through local vernaculars. Most of the country’s nearly 4 million population remain illiterate and depend on local vernaculars to properly digest information of policy decisions.

According to the Liberia News Agency, the Legislation was submitted to the Committee since February 7, 2012 by Plenary for scrutiny and review as well as advice.

The Committee in the report indicated that it conducted public hearing in March 2012 to solicit the expert opinions of stakeholders in the Information Sector.

The Committee said it carried out intensive research and consulted information experts and media practitioners on the essence of the Legislation, something that resulted to technical adjustment in the instrument.

 The 17-man Committee disclosed that during its research and consultation, it found out that the bill enjoyed the overwhelming support of Liberians, especially rural dwellers, as it has the propensity to help in the dissemination of government policies and activities throughout the country.

According to the Committee, the Rural Community Stations Sustainability Act is in consonance with the Constitution of Liberia as enshrined in Article 15b which states that “Every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impact knowledge and information available”.

In the report, the committee noted that even in the absence of the bill, which also seeks Government’s subsidy to rural community stations that meet certain benchmarks, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism is supporting community radio stations.

There are 50 community radio stations currently in operation in Liberia. Most of these stations have been facing serious financial constraints, according to reliable sources.

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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