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-Calls For Speedy Passage of Bill

The Reporters Association of Liberia (RAL) has welcomed the submission of a bill seeking to make the Liberia Broadcasting System a Public Broadcaster.

The law which was submitted by Bong County Representative George Mulbah will give greater voice to the public over the state broadcaster, and remove political influence on the operations of the Liberia broadcasting System (LBS).

Currently, the LBS is managed by presidential appointees, who hold loyalty to the president and ruling party to certain extent, thereby reducing the chances of opposition and free speech campaigners to fully utilize the state broadcaster mainly during the political season. In a release issued over the weekend in Monrovia, RAL said it believes that transforming the state broadcaster in to public broadcaster will reduce the fear of dismissal by the appointing authority, of managers who give equal airtime to critics of government or the ruling party.

The umbrella organizations of reporters in Liberia reflected on the last state of the nation address by President Ellen Johnson-Sireaf, where a live commentator was insulted and bullied by Information Minister Eugene Nagbe, for giving the station’s microphone to an opposition to criticize the president.

The current board of the station is statutorily chaired by anybody appointed as Minister of Information, who is the official spokesperson of government.

RAL said this wouldn’t have been possible had LBS not a public broadcaster. The bill accordingly, seeks to repeal the Public Authorities Law of Chapter 87, Title 30 of Liberian Code of Laws Revised of the People's Redemption Council (PRC) Decree No. 20, to establish the National Public Service Broadcaster to be known as the Liberia National Broadcasting Corporation (LNBC).

Under the proposed bill, those to head the LNBC will be nominated by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Press Union of Liberia, Liberia National Bar Association, Liberia Chambers of Commerce, Inter-Religious Council of Liberia, National Teachers Association of Liberia and Civil Society Organizations.

The RAL is urging the members of the Legislature, especially those in opposition to ensure the passage of the bill because it provides free speech environment for all.

RAL said the transforming LBS into a public broadcaster will end the persistent complaints by politicians that the state broadcaster is partial in providing equal airtime to all Liberians.

Public broadcasting includes radio, television and other electronic media outlets whose primary mission is public service. In much of the world, funding comes from the government, especially via annual fees charged on receivers. Public broadcasting may be nationally or locally operated, depending on the country and the station.

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