The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications Mohamed D Koroma has issued a warning to the ruling APC and opposition SLPP radio stations, to refrain from broadcasting news that will bring hate and division in the minds of party stalwarts and ordinary people.
He made this pronouncement yesterday whilst delivering his keynote address on the opening ceremony of a three day training for staff of the APC and SLPP radio stations on running a radio station at Fourah Bay College (FBC) in Freetown. The training is organized by the Independent Media Commission (IMC) in collaboration with the Mass Communication Department FBC with funding from the British High Commission.
He added that “it is a fact which no one can challenge that most of our colleagues in the noble profession of journalism are un-professionally orientated”.
This he said, is because past governments in this country failed to take the profession very seriously by providing it with the necessities needed such as a true school of journalism and qualified lecturers like in other professions.
The Deputy Minister pointed out that, the APC government is aware of the fact that for any democratic state to move well there must be freedom of the press and of opinions of all shades.
He pointed that, “the APC and SLPP radio stations are no exceptions to non- professionalism in their operations”, further adding that, un-professionalism in journalism is gaining grounds and we are therefore anxious to bring sanity in the media operations of these two radio stations and other media outlets.
Mr. Koroma maintained that “it suffices to say that the price for un-professional journalism are negatively enormous”, noting that as a nation, we are still continuing to suffer because of bad press coverage.
Truly, he said, “the government is poised to use information and communication to create an enabling condition for public participation in policy formulation, strategy and implementation”.
The Deputy Minister of Information and Communications maintained that if the populace has the required information and communicate well, they will be able to improve their living standards and provide an atmosphere for both national and international investments.
He said that “I want everybody to know that information is everything life needs –we as a government will encourage and nurse a free-flow of information between governors and the governed”.
Mr Koroma noted that the IMC which has the statutory powers must do something extraordinary to keep these two radio stations and other media outlets within the law.
In her opening remarks chairperson of IMC, Bernadette Cole, said that many people have criticized the IMC for giving license to the two leading political parties to set up radio stations.
She added that some say the existence of the two radio stations is a recipe for chaos, while others are of the view that they pose a threat to the country’s hard earned peace.
The chairperson emphasized that a lot has been done by the IMC over the past few weeks to call the attention of the two political parties about this unsavory practice and get them to conform to the media code of practice.
She stated that since one of the most important functions of the IMC is to ensure that media institutions achieve the highest level of efficiency in the provision of media services, the commission decided to organize crash training for staff of the two radio stations.
Mrs Cole hoped that this training will signal a turning point in the out put of the two political radio stations, stressing that the stations will now have no excuse to continue in the same manner that caused public out cry and the call to ban them.
The Chairperson disclosed that any radio station that contravenes the provisions of the media code of practice will from now on face the full penalty provided in the IMC Act, the media code of practice as well as the communiqué that the two leaders of the two political parties are expected to sign shortly.
In his statement, Station Manager of APC radio, Councilor Dennis Smith said that his party was the first to open a radio with frequency modulation 88.8.
He stated that, his station has not incited or encouraged listeners to cause problems or mayhem in the country before, during and after the past elections.
Councilor Smith assured all that they shall endeavor to follow the rules and regulations of the IMC, adding that we shall endeavor to show professionalism and correct some areas where there are lapses.
Station Manager of SLPP radio station, Charlie Hinga said that the two radio stations have listeners and that we should know what we are telling them and be careful of what is coming out from our stations.
He said at the end of the training what ever programmes they will bring out will be appreciated by the public. He assured all that everything that will come out of the Unity radio will not be hate messages.
Commissioner Joshua Nicol who gave the overview training emphasized the need of the two stations to show professionalism.
By Abibatu Kamara