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THE AFRICELL RADIO “SAGA”

The debate on Africell Radio Station in the country has gone on and on, for far too long without an end in sight.  Many callers logia seems to desert within espousing the closure of Africell without looking at the other side of the coin.

The “short commentary” on page 3 of the Global Times Newspaper dated 8th April 2013, began almost making use of the rules of logic, but failed to grasp the reality that IMC, NATCOM are operative organs within the framework of the Government of Sierra Leone. The commentary concluded without the usual accepted premises that syllogism appreciates in the field of philosophy. The officers of both NATCOM and IMC can be hired and fired by the Chief Executive of Government, because the fact remains logically true that they were hired on the goodwill of the Chief Executive.  The supervising Ministry of these two organs of Government (IMC, NATCOM) is the Ministry of Information and Communications.

 

Questions relating to these organs for good or evil are answerable to the Central Government by the Ministry of Information and Communications.  Yet it is being said, according to sources at the IMC that the Ministry of Information and Communication has no power to order the suspension of Africell license while a committee is to be set up to investigate the issues involved, leading to the issuance of a Radio station license to Africell Ltd and other corporate entities. There is this real fear among media owners and practitioners that multimillion dollar corporate institutions have the financial muscles to break down smaller and indigenous institutions under what they have described as an unfair advantage and competition. This is not only true, but cannot be disputed taking the market situation into consideration with its scare resources that all these institutions are clamouring for.   If questions about the operation of either IMC or NATCOM were to be asked on the floor of Parliament about the Africell Radio license, the Oversight Committee on Information and Broadcasting will have no options but seek answers from the supervising Ministry, which is the Ministry of Information and Communications.

It is hoped that from the foreigners, the inextricable link between the Minister of Information and Communications with an in-built power to seek to ensure and protect the interest of smaller indigenous Radio Stations, in the issuance of Radio License to Foreign Business Entrepreneur that would wage an unequal and unfair competition. Media owners are asking one simple question and that is, if their survival is safeguarded.

While this writer may have probably not read the legal opinion proffered by the learned Lawyer – Chrispin F. Edwards on the issue of whether the Minister of Information and Communication has power or not to request the suspension of AFricell’s Radio License, it would now seem that the opinion  has been giving the right response.  The Independent Media Commission Act 2000 and the Code of Practice created, does not have statement precluding the intervention of the Supervisory Ministry if that became necessary in light of existing circumstances.  The legal opinion of the Lawyer for the IMC could never have stated that the Minister of Information has no power to advice the suspension of Africell Radio License in the particular circumstances.  It is in the view of many Sierra Leoneans that the legal opinion is not only a figment of the imagination of the writer, who might have been carried away by his personal gains in whatever form that may be, but it became worrisome to note how some of our Learned Legal Colleagues can proffer wrong and inaccurate legal opinions that sometimes put their Clients in jeopardy.

No government operates in a vacuum.  The final responsibility for acts done or omitted to be done in a Supervisory Ministry’s domain would lie squarely at the door steps of Ministers.

The advice to suspend not to “Cancel” to allow the merits and demerits of various submissions on the issue was intended to cool the tempers of protagonists on the matter.

Understandably, the issue for smaller indigenous Radio Stations is the possible loss of needed revenue from advertising from a “giant” financial competitor that may shape down to the floor of the barrel for financial survival.

Looking back in history to see how Banks in the United Kingdom were cut down to size on the issue of Insurance Policies on better terms than existing Insurance Companies operating, the clamour and upheaval that arose shocked the British Government at Rock Bottom.  With little fuss or consultation, the Government stepped in and ordered the Banks to cease on the issue of Insurance Policies till today and allowed those in the Insurance business to carry out their traditional businesses without hindrance or unfair competition that is the rule, otherwise those smaller Insurance Companies  would have been forced out of businesses and never re-surfaced.

Let IMC, NATCOM and Afri- Media (SL) Ltd come together and see sense to prevent either a Government or a Parliamentary action to protect the interest of smaller indigenous Radio Stations across the country.

Posted by on 10:47 pm. Filed under Breaking News, NEWS, ONE ON ONE, OPINION, OTHER NEWS, Plein Tok, Uncategorized, VIEWPOINT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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