The LTA declares, threatens to redelegate frequencies
The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has announced the expiration of all FM radio licenses pending the review of individual frequency assignments.
The sweeping action is part of the mandate enforced through the new FM Regulations and the deadline for compliance is December 31st 2019.
“All station owners are urged to come in to the LTA to secure their frequency assignment or risk the redelegation to new radio station applicants in January,” a release from the LTA said.
The release, issued late Wednesday, December 18, added that the effort aims to harmonize the frequency landscape and provide interference protection for legitimately registered and compliant stations.
LTA Public Affairs Director, Jarsea Burphy, said: “There are simply too many unregistered stations in the country, especially in Montserrado County. This exercise, whether you have been in operation for years or just started, will affect you.”
The LTA is the government agency responsible for the assignment and management of Liberia’s International Telecommunication Union assigned Spectrum. “As stewards, we have to ensure that those who use our frequency, do so legitimately and without interference from others.”
The LTA says it has a back log of applications for FM Stations and if those who should come in to reapply and secure their frequencies do not comply by the December 31, 2019 deadline, the risk of reassignment is imminent and frequencies will be redelegated to new applicants clearing the landscape for those wishing to operate in compliance.
The LTA has eliminated the distinction between commercial and non commercial stations, encouraging owners to define their own income generating platforms. The Regulator has also introduced a new five-year license retiring the annual renewal process. Owners will still, however, have to be compliant with the Ministry of Information which issues Permits.
In January the LTA will begin the process of reviewing new applicants nationwide.
The decision is coming at the time when the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the LTA are in the process of validating FM frequencies in Monrovia after placing a moratorium on the assignment of frequencies due to what a PUL official referred to as “Poor work” done in earlier assignments of frequencies.
While the PUL is aware of the ongoing review process, the official noted, any act other than this is contrary to the true intent of the review process.
The LTA’s announcement came as a complete shock to radio station operators. Two prominent stations reached by the Daily Observer said they had no clue that such measure was coming. An executive of one of the stations said that the December 31 deadline was simply unrealistic.
Another radio executive, Martin Brown, President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sky Communication Incorporated, said that he was not in the know of the information and needed to peruse the statement before responding.
Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia official said is expected to respond to the LTA statement today.