An attempt by lawyers representing Voice FM radio station to get the Civil Law Court to lift its suspension to use the controversial 102.7 frequency was on Friday rejected by Judge Yussif Kaba.
Denying the request, Judge Kaba said Voice FM was never licensed by the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) – the regulatory agency – to operate radio communications equipment or given the authority to use the 102.7 frequency, which is at the center of the contention.
“Therefore to allow the Voice FM to operate such equipment would be tantamount to giving blanket license to all to violate the regulation,” Judge Kaba ruled.
He said, “This court denied and dismissed the request to vacate its preliminary injunction and by that makes permanent the injunction issued pending the outcome of the declaratory judgment.”
The controversial 102.7 frequency was initially licensed to the Liberia Web Radio (LWR) on July 1, 2013 for a period of one year, and the LWR did not renew the license at the LTA when it expired in 2014.
The Liberia Web Radio then went on to sell the frequency (102.7) to Voice FM, which prompted the LTA to seek the court’s intervention.
It was due to that complaint that Judge Kaba placed the preliminary injunction on the use of the frequency until he could review the case.
The case was yet to be decided by Judge Kaba when the Voice FM legal team quickly filed a request to get the LTA’s preliminary injunction overturned and get the station re-opened using the controversial frequency.
Giving reasons for the reopening, the Voice FM lawyers argued that “The injunctive relief sought by the LTA was in bad faith and merely intended to embarrass and frustrate their mission of providing quality information to the general public.”
They agreed that the Act establishing the LTA provides that “no person shall operate radio communications equipment or make any use of radio frequencies except in accordance with radio spectrum license or radio frequency authorization issued by the LTA.”
They also admitted that their client obtained the license from Liberia Web Radio.
Voice FM again agreed that the condition of the license issued to the Liberia Web Radio was that ownership of the license should not be assigned or transferred to another person or entity without a prior written consent and approval of the LTA.
Further in his ruling Judge Kaba said, “If in the opinion of the LTA its regulation had been violated, it is within the confines of due process to take action to ensure compliance with the regulation.
“An injunctive relief therefore under the supervision of this court aimed at arresting perceived violator of statutory regulation cannot be considered as an act of bad faith without specifically showing that the relief was sought for the purpose of vexation or violating fundamental rights.”
Kaba added, “The court does not see any element of bad faith on the part of the LTA that is seeking injunctive pending the hearing and determination of its request for declaratory judgment.”