Liberia broadcast regulatory authority labels 70 FM radio stations noncompliant

The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has released the name of 70 FM radio stations it labels as noncompliant.

LTA, which independently regulates and monitors the quality of telecommunication services while promoting fair competition, is also responsible for issuance of licenses to broadcast operators, including radio stations. The authority says most of the stations it named are found to be in regulatory violation are due to delinquency over renewal of spectrum licenses.

Prominent among the radio stations are the national broadcaster, ELBC also known as the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS), Truth FM, Prime FM. Others are Freedom FM, Sky FM, Kings FM, Hot FM, Power FM, Punch FM, T-Five radio, among others.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, the Acting Chairperson of the LTA, Abdullah Kamara emphasized the critical nature of spectrum management, noting that spectrum is a scarce, finite resource.

Each country, regardless of its size, is allotted the same amount of spectrum. Frequency within our allotted spectrum is set aside specifically for FM broadcast use,” Kamara said.

The LTA chairman revealed that the 70 radio stations are categorized into two groups. They are a group of 53 stations that were previously licensed but are now operating illegally due to non-payment of annual regulatory fees.

“Stations on this list have lapsed in their payments to the LTA and thus to the Republic of Liberia. They are using our finite spectrum resource illegally,” he said.

Some of these stations have not paid in years. They have just continued to operate, year in and year out, generating revenue, oblivious to their obligations to the Government.”

Also, he said a second group of 17 radio stations found not to registered with the LTA, thus operating illegally, and are exposing employees to harmful radiation from transmitters.

He added, “Most of these stations broadcast on any available frequency, causing interference with other stations. The proliferation of illegal stations in Montserrado County is so high that a moratorium has been placed on the issuance of new licenses.”

To date, the LTA revealed that only 10 radio stations in Montserrado are currently in compliance, with two more having pending applications.

“The number of new applications on file for stations in Montserrado is huge. These owners are ready to pay for our frequency, but our landscape is so cluttered, new frequency assignments are impossible,” he explained.

He meanwhile stressed the urgency of noncompliant stations to settle their issues so as to clean up the cluttered airwaves.

We are issuing a call to all station owners in Montserrado who fall into one of the two categories to come to the LTA in Paynesville, and let’s see how we can help get your station into compliance. We do not want to close any stations down, but if owners refuse to come in, they may lose their frequency to new applicants who are patiently waiting to start their station operations.”

To be in good standing with the regulator, radio stations must obtain a permit from the Ministry of Information, an assigned frequency from the LTA, a current business license, and a valid tax clearance.

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