Sierra Leone Association of Journalists SLAJ President, Umaru Fofanah has vehemently criticized the Minister of Information and Communication for removing the assets of Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service SLBS and giving them to National Telecommunications Commission NATCOM instead of passing them on to the new Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
The SLAJ Prexy said it was a brilliant idea to transform SLBS and UN Radio into a Corporation making Sierra Leone the second in Africa, but not to give them the assets was very wrong and intend to destroy the fabrics of the Corporation.
He said the most significant thing to happen to the media landscape in our country in the last one year has been the transformation of the state broadcaster to an independent public service broadcaster known as the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation.
“There may be teething problems in achieving what the Corporation should achieve but we are heartened by the new status and wish to appeal to all to make it work in the interest of our country. In particular, we are gravely concerned, I repeat, gravely concerned, that the Ministry of Information has written to the Corporation denying its ownership of all its transmission sites throughout the country, and its building at New England which currently houses Njala University. This is not just a breach of the SLBC Act, but an apparent attempt at stifle the Corporation’s independence even before it kicks off”.
Umaru said if SLBC should operate properly, they need all these assets because at Leicester Peak, there are many other masts owned by other radio stations as well as communication companies that are paying rent, these monies he said would come in handy to SLBC because the support from the government will never be enough to run the Corporation.
The SLAJ President said the Ministry is doing it deliberately to stifle the Corporation because it seems they never wanted SLBC so they are finding other ways to destroy them.
He said SLAJ in collaboration with other stakeholders will use all available means to overturn that decision.
Umaru said the transition team will meet this week and this topic will be paramount in all discussions as he believes SLBC can’t operate under such an agreement.
He also said he was not happy for the operations between SLBS and UN Radio. He said SLAJ is concerned that the two components of SLBC, namely the former UN Radio and the former SLBS do not seem to be operating as one entity.
“It is shocking to know that even after they were deemed to have become one institution, they both chose to broadcast separately in the build up to our Independence Day and on Independence Day itself. This can only stoke up separatist idea in the staff that should be one entity”, he concluded