LIBERIA: Open LBS Doors To All Actors ….MICAT Boss-Designate tells Liberian Senate

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The Minister-Designate of the Ministry of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism, Jerolinmek M. Piah, has said the legislature must repeal the military law of former President Samuel Doe to open the ELBS to every actor.

Appearing for his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Information and Broadcasting chaired by Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon on Monday, February 26, 2024, the minister- designate said it is unfortunate for a democratic government to be working with military decree, noting that the state broadcaster should not just a mouthpiece for the national government.

According to him, Liberia has transitioned from said era and must live up to the tenets of democracy, stressing the need for every citizen’s voice to be heard on the state radio irrespective of whatever political affiliation in the country.

Mr. Piah, who spoke to a cross-section of concerns, emphasized 100-percent support for Liberia Broadcasting Corporation to be a state-owned but averred that the state-owned broadcaster should ensure people who misuse the space to talk are held liable for making anti-democratic comments or grave allegations against another citizen.

“So if you are an opposition actor and ELBC gives you space and you want to use the platform to insult people, incite others and cause chaos then that’s different. But just for the purpose of having the voices of all actors to be heard, then ELBC should do that,” Mr. Piah said.

The MICAT boss- Designate indicated that as it stands, it is left with the discretion of the Director General of the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS/ELBC) to decide whether or not he or she will provide the platform for any state actor, especially an opposition politician.

According to him, the act creating the LBS does not give any right to the Director General of the institution to decide who sits on the platform to express his or view on national matters.

“So the reason why that legislation was drafted is that it will become a law. So if Jerolinmek Piah is the Director General for ELBC, it is not left to his discretion to decide how that station is run. The act creating it a state or public broadcaster must be adhere to and where does it stand, it’s with you; wherever that piece of instrument is, when you find it and finalize it, it is a law,” Mr. Piah emphasized.

He promised to follow the law creating the Liberia Broadcasting System when repealed and finalized by the national legislature, as it is not an option for the institution management to either implement the act or not.

Meanwhile, Mr. Piah disclosed that employees at the entity have been demoralized while no deputy or assistant minister had an assigned vehicle for the last six years.

According to him, only the Minister of Information, Culture Affairs and Tourism had an officially assigned vehicle, while some employees are being paid US$40 but they are demanded to transport themselves or walk daily back-to-back to work amid underpayment.

“I was appalled when I heard that for the past six years, all the ministers at the Ministry of Information were walking; they didn’t get a car. If the ministers don’t have cars, you expect those poor workers to get buses to bring them to work,” he stressed.

The Information Minister- designate called on members of the Liberian Senate to be supportive to the ministry in solving these problems, stressing that people are being demoralized for the fact that a worker is paid US$40 but he or she is paying his or her way to go to work.

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