Gov’t Undermining State Broadcaster?

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Mr. Moses Dorbor: "We're bringing this to the public just in case."

— As LBS Workers Raise Red Flag on CDC upcoming radio, TV stations

News that the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) of President George Weah has planned to establish its own radio and television stations, has been greeted with sharp reaction from the leadership of the Liberia Broadcasting System Workers’ Union (LIBSWU).

Accordingly, LIBSWU, said that it learned of the CDC’s plan to establish a radio and television station through multiple “credible” sources.

LIBSWU in a release issued on Thursday, September 12, 2019, in Monrovia, said the establishment of the radio and television stations the ruling party is intended to undermine the existence of the state-run broadcast institution; a complete contravention to the decree that established the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS).

Moses Dorbor, LIBSWU president, said LBS was established by a decree under the People’s Redemption Council (PRC decree number 20) on October 10, 1980, to amend chapter 87 of the Public Authorities Law. It was established as a broadcast entity to disseminate and promulgate government’s policy.

Dorbor said that under this decree, LBS is a development-oriented public service broadcasting system with the authority to establish a central programming facility and regional broadcasting, noting that its goals are to support rural development by promoting several initiatives.

Dorbor added, “It is to increase the utilization by the rural population of existing government services, the expansion of these services to a greater portion of the rural population, increased communication between the villages and the local, regional and national government, increased self-help initiative and increased involvement and participation in local and national development efforts.”

Following the colossal defeat of the CDC senatorial candidate, Paulita Wie, in the recent Montserrado County by-elections, Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon, in one of his Facebook live videos on his “Facts vs Fiction” monologues, noted that one of the reasons the CDC candidate did not win is because the party did not have its own media outlet. Fahngon referred to related privately-owned outlets, including King’s FM, and Clar TV, owned by President George M. Weah, as well as MCCTV, a media outlet set up on the Facebook platform by Mayor Jefferson T. Koijee, for the Monrovia City Corporation. Koijee is the chairman of the CDC Youth League and has frequently used MCCTV to propagate anti-opposition messages.

According to Fahngon, such media outlets do not belong exclusively to the CDC, therefore they cannot be as effective in the party’s political campaigns. It appears now that the CDC leadership have taken heed to Fahngon’s advice.

Now, a key point of concern about the CDC establishing its own media outlets is the question of where the funding will come from. Amid reports about the outright refusal of government officials of declaring their assets, coupled with budget manipulations in the Legislature after the national budget is passed, LBS employees fear that these are loopholes through which public funds might be sourced to fund the CDC’s private media enterprise.

The state broadcaster itself has consistently been subject to cuts in its annual budgetary allotments.

During the 2016-2017 budget year, LBS received an allocation of US$1,262,390. However, in 2017-2018 that amount was cut by over 49 percent to US$620,724 something that LBS workers believe is hampering the effective operations of the station across the country. In 2018-2019, LBS’ budget climbed slightly to US$625,255, but could plummet to US$562,201, according projections for 2019-2020. According to the 2019-2020 draft national budget, LBS has asked for 1,010,628.

Dorbor believes that if the CDC–led government is to establish a partisan media outlet, it must firstly repeal the act that created the LBS to undo its statutory mandate.

Dorbor said that with this act, it becomes the Liberian government’s sole responsibility to fully provide financial support to LBS to carry out its functions, and government parallel to the LBS can establish no new radio and television stations.

Besides, the Union’s president said the government’s financial support to LBS is from taxpayers’ money, and establishing radio and television stations parallel to the station will be a “disservice to Liberians taxpayers.

Dorbor is however warned the CDC–led government not to tread the path of former President Charles Ghankay Taylor, who attempted to push aside LBS by prioritizing his privately-owned KISS FM radio and television stations.

He recalled how similar attempts were made by the 53rd Legislature to establish a radio station; an idea that the public strongly resisted.

Dorbor said during the administration of former President Taylor, LBS was not supported at all. The station, according to him, experienced intermittent blackouts of service, thereby rendering it insignificant to the Liberian people, something he fears could be repeated if the CDC is allowed to erect its own media outlets.

He said currently, all LBS out-stations have been off the air for the past several months, due to the lack of operational funds, including a shortage of diesel fuel to run the generators.

Meanwhile, employees have called for a mass meeting to formally engage President George Weah on the issue any time soon.

4 COMMENTS

    • He is saying the right thing, why the CDC did not operate their own station during the years they were in opposition, if they had money to do so? It means they will be using Liberia tax dollars to run their private, propaganda venture, those are funds that are needed badly to operate the LBS, it is right for the alarm now thanks.

  1. Mr. Gbada Flomo

    You couldn’t have said it better. The primary reason for the CDC wanting to establish its own radio station is for propaganda purposes.

    The world has always witnessed these kinds of scenarios time after time when despots take over the reign of countries.

    Some signs of the time that show that Liberia is heading for a bumpy ride are: the formation of death squads, like the Weah’s Strike Force; the usurping of the powers of the judicial branch of government, like the unconstitutional impeachment of Associate Justice Jan’neh; the cracking down on the rights of citizens to peaceably assemble, like the Weah-instigated attacks against supporters of Telia; sanctioned killings, like the murder of the late Innis at Central Bank; massively expropriating public funds through scam, like the missing 25 billion and 25 million dollars; stealthily repudiating the powers of all integrity institutions, like the weakening of the functions of the GAC, the LEITI, the LACC, the CSA and so forth.

    The clamoring of the CDC to operate its own broadcasting network is simply based on the fact that the current LBS mandate does not cloth it with the authority to be extremely CDC-propaganda focused. A fully established CDC broadcasting network will devote its time 24/7 disseminating lies and misinformation to the people. This is the objective.

    The activities of totalitarians and those of the free press do not co-exist. If Weah is to be successful in achieving his goals of prolonging his stay in power, then, freedom of the press will eventually have to go.

  2. Fellow Liberians,

    The bitter experience of what took place in Rwanda, with the Government of Rwanda at that time using media to influence and encourage tribal conflict, committing terror against peaceful citizens of that Nation, is gradually creeping into the Liberian political theater. The proposed CDC’s Radio and Television Stations will certainly be used to propagate hate messages, encouraging CDCians to wage war on fellow Liberians who opposes their policies and political ideologies. This is the greatest danger facing Liberia’s democracy and the future of free, fair and transparent elections in Liberia. If nothing is done to stop this madness, the credulous behaviors of some Liberians will eventually lead our Nation to allow Weah and his criminal gangsters to force us into another civil unrest, that might even surpass what we experienced in our fourteen years of uncivil conflict. Some might call me a pessimist, but the threat of instability and conflict looming over our Nation is real.

    The current unusual wave of activities designed to circumvent the democratic process are all attempts by George Weah and the CDC to perpetuate themselves in power against the will of the majority. The news of the arrival of military vehicles and the reported arms secretly brought into the Country by the Weah’s administration is a clear signal that CDC is preparing for war against the Liberian people. Interestingly, Jefferson Koigee has placed his Monrovia City Police under the control and direction of the CDC Militant Sabu Unit, which has been training for combat readiness. As Liberians can recalled, the CDC has been using the Liberia National Police as private security to protect its political establishment. Utterances originating from members and officials of the CDC clearly shows that she has no interest in free, fair and transparent elections and the democratic future of the Nation, for which Liberians fought to achieve. The proposed Constitutional Amendments which is being manipulated at the Liberian Senate, without the inputs of the people, is a typical example of creeping dictatorial tendency.

    My Fellow Liberians, be warned! Dictatorship has finally arrived at our door-steps in Liberia with brutality inching to be meted out against any opposition. It’s now, “US” v.s “Them.” And unfortunately, those we elected to represent our collective interests from our 73 districts, along with our Senators are in cohort with this criminal enterprise to loot and keep our people in perpetual poverty. These bunch of reprobates, masquerading as leaders will not relent until they plunge this Nation into another civil conflict. We should not complacently allow these criminal gangs to initiate another conflict amongst our already suffering people. Weah and his criminal enterprise must be stopped. Liberians must rise up now, not later, to stop this menace. If Liberians sit idly, hoping that God will perform miracles-expecting a free, fair and transparent elections to transfer power, comes 2023, Liberians will be day-dreaming and it will be little too late.

    Revelations from Miss Jestina Taylor for which she was kidnapped, tortured, raped and left to die is real and must be taken seriously. The threat to Liberia’s peace, security and her democratic future is real and must claim the undivided attention of all Liberians and our International Partners. We, as sober-minded patriotic Liberians have legal and moral obligations to ensure that Liberia is politically stable and is democratically thriving and serving, to improve the lives of her citizens. The level of criminality in our Nation in which the so-called “untouchables” are not affected by what this Government dubbed as, “Salary Harmonization,” amounts to economic crimes against the people and a criminal conspiracy to keep the vast majority of Liberians in perpetual poverty. The fact that this so-called “salary harmonization” only affects and impacts the struggling poor in society clearly indicates the mindsets of those charged with the responsibility to conduct the affairs of our Nation.

    The critical questions are: 1. In a Nation with a total National Budget of less than half of a billion dollars, why must Representatives and Senators pay themselves a lion share of the national income of the Nation, anywhere from $15,000 to $30,000 USD per month besides their perks? 2. Why is President Weah spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on foreign trips with no benefits to the Nation and people? 3. When will the Government of President George Weah investigate the disappearance of US $25 million and the Liberian 16 billion dollars, along with all other financial crimes captured in national audit reports in Liberia? 4. Given the economic hardship in the Nation and the down-ward trajectory of the future of the Liberian Economic, why is the Weah’s Government importing arms and military vehicles at this time, instead of investments in key sectors to improve food security and provide employment for our large youth population? 5. What is the source or sources of President Weah’s wealth to construct 49 personal mansions and purchase private jet in less than two years since he took office as President of Liberia? 6. Given that it has been researched and established that decentralization will help to improve governance and allow the people to hold their local government officials accountable, what plan has the CDC lead Government put in place for the implementation of the proposed decentralization process?

    Quite honestly, the level of criminality under this CDC lead Government is not just troubling, it is damn right dangerous for the peace, security and cohesiveness of our people. It has the propensity to derail peace and stability in our Nation. And so, we must unite and hold the Weah’s Government accountable. We cannot continue to watch from the spectators bench. Also, please note that no amount of militarization of CDC’s Sabu militant groups will deter Liberians from speaking and writing the truth.The Liberian National Police and Military must understand that they are hired to work for the Liberian people and not the party in power. Keep in mind that Sergeant Doe had all the military hardware and was removed and eventually killed. Liberia belongs to all Liberians and not just a select few with CDC’s membership. Mark my words! Liberia and Liberians Will Rise. That’s how I see it. The people are watching with eagle eyes.

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