MONROVIA: The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) have agreed to collaborate on issues relating to regulation of the broadcast sector of Liberia by the LTA.
The LTA is the statutory body responsible to regulate broadcast frequency regime of Liberia including the granting of frequencies to radio stations to operate.
During a recent meeting held between the Acting Chairperson of the LTA, Edwina Crump Zackpah, Press Union of Liberia Vice President, Daniel Nyakonah, a representative from Internews Liberia as well as technicians from the LTA, the PUL and LTA expressed commitments for continuous collaboration.
The meeting was triggered by concerns from the Press Union of Liberia that the LTA FM radio regulations of 2019 LTA-REG-007 was not validated by all stakeholders and that the financial requirements for radio stations are too high.
Making comments during the meeting, PUL Vice President Nyakonah said the focus of the PUL is on the FM regulation.
“It is in our both interests to go back to the FM regulation, the current media economy that governs the media sector is not strong to raise what will enable them to be forthcoming on what the current regulation is requiring them to pay”, said the PUL Vice President.
According to Mr. Nyakonah revision of the draft regulation will help both the LTA and the PUL to suit the current regulation.
The PUL official added: “We want radio stations to be able to abide by the regulation but if they are unable to raise revenue to live up to what is required by the regulation, it will be another challenge”.
Mr. Nyakonah added that overtaxing the media will create the situation where freedom of expression will be hindered.
“If we overtax the media, we will shut them down and it will draw on the issue of freedom of expression”, he continued.
LTA Acting Chairperson, Zackpah said the LTA needs to raise the bar to ensure compliance by radio stations.
“We need to raise the bar to ensure compliance, radio stations need to have business plan in a way to generate income and meet up with regulatory requirements”, said Zackpah.
According to him, media institutions should follow the law, and as such, the Press Union of Liberia should take the lead in encouraging these media institutions to abide by regulations.
“We can’t reduce what is in the FM Frequency Regulation just to suit everyone. This regulation stands out amongst all the other regulations and we therefore encourage the PUL to tell media institutions to follow the law”, the LTA Acting Chairperson said.
At the end of the meeting, the LTA through its Acting Chairperson and the Press Union of Liberia through its Vice President agreed to collaborate and hold consultations that will review the current FM regulatory regime in Liberia.
It was agreed that the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, civil society organizations, media development practitioners join the Press Union of Liberia and the Liberia Telecommunications Authority in assessing the LTA FM regulation.
Also, it was further agreed that the Press Union of Liberia will be included on the Telecommunications Authority’s planned nationwide assessment of radio stations across the country. The LTA promised to keep the Press Union of Liberia involved with its spectrum regulation activity going forward.
Nationwide, FM radio stations are required to pay application fee of US$500 and annual Spectrum usage fee of US$6,000. While Type A standard FM Radio stations are required to pay an amount of US$200 for Application fees and US$3,000 for Annual spectrum usage fee.
Type B Standard FM Radio Stations are required to pay an amount of US$150 for application fees and annual spectrum usage fee of US$1,500.
Type C Standard FM Radio Stations are required to pay US$100 as Application fees and US$1,000 annual spectrum usage fee.