MONROVIA, Montserrado – Boakai M. Fofana, the deputy minister for technical services at the Information Ministry, says the media review process recently announced by the government is gradually progressing.
On June 18, the government announced an immediate suspension of all new operating licenses and authorizations it had issued to media operators between January 1 and June 18 this year.
The government said it was reviewing the regulatory regime of media operating licenses and authorization due to “technical and administrative irregularities,” including duplications of frequencies to radio and television operators, and incorrect designations and submissions.
Eugene Fahngon, deputy information minister for public affairs, later revealed to The Bush Chicken that the media institutions affected included Spoon Communications, Punch FM, 231 Group of Companies, and Magic FM/Emmanuel TV. Fahngon also said talk show host Henry Costa’s also submitted a request for a radio station named Roots FM.
Organizations such as the Press Union of Liberia had criticized the government’s action as “arbitrary and targeted.” The union called on the government to speed up the process.
One media institution affected by the action was Punch FM, a recently launched but not yet operational media outlet. Its CEO, Patrick Honnah, had told The Bush Chicken that he felt targeted by the government’s action. Honnah’s Punch FM and Punch TV have been heavily advertised on billboards around Monrovia and on the Facebook pages of supporters.
He previously worked for the state broadcaster, ELBC, as deputy director general for broadcast services and was relieved of the post upon the inauguration of President George Weah. Honnah had been viewed as biased in favor of former Vice President Joseph Boakai, who was then running against Weah for president.
Fofana, the deputy minister, said the process of reviewing these media agencies is ongoing.
“Few media institutions have made representation and the government is ensuring that they conform to the regulatory process,” he said.
However, Fofana did not detail how many or which institutions had been cleared, if any. He said the process is being done by a specific review committee and reiterated Fahngon’s previous statement that the media review process would continue as long as necessary.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah