POLITICAL PARTIES CAN OPERATE RADIO STATIONS AS RESPONSIBLE ENTITIES
So what is all this "channel noise" about the wisdom or folly of closing down the two radio stations belonging to the two main political parties of the ruling APC and the main opposition SLPP?
Without wasting your time, let us state here that the Sierra Herald believes that it was wrong, if not unconstitutional for the Vice President (Ernest Koroma's number 2) to have ordered both stations closed. And as this piece is read, kindly remind State House that its operatives had no business carting away the equipment of the opposition radio.
This is no time for the ruling APC (read AFRC Mk II) to keep on believing that the opposition radio is the same as the FM 98.1 radio that gave AFRC Mk I such a hard time!!! Remember that gadfly during junta rule (AFRC Mk I)
First and foremost, the IMC should put down laws relating to broadcasting that is practical as well as enforceable and must be seen to be applicable to all and sundry such outlets.
Breaches of rules should be met with stiff fines for each default with a threat of closure if such fines are not paid.....payment of the fines will help ensure that the operators of the radio stations behave in a responsible manner.
So first things first - who are the personnel in charge of output from these stations?
Are they trained in the use and power of the voice entering the homes of people?
Do they know how to craft messages in such a manner that they do not offend?
Do they have House Rules, Values and other guidance notes in place that make for decent and responsible broadcasts?
How much scripting and vetting is done before items are broadcast?
Are the broadcasters responsible enough in ensuring that their contents are not offensive or divisive?
Political party radio stations need not spend the whole time while on air bad-mouthing "the other party" using any amount of lies, damned lies to feed the ego of supporters who have been trained to believe and hence expect nothing good to be said about political rivals.
In fact we would humbly submit that if these two radio stations are properly staffed with personnel on payroll who know what radio broadcasting is all about, these outlets provide a great avenue for the preaching of what true democracy is all about and more importantly the soundness of tolerance to other views.
Both radio stations could use their time to educate their listeners about their civic and other responsibilities. They can teach their listeners all about the need for reconciliation and peace in the mother country after a decade of death, destruction, dispossession, rape, abduction and arson.
We say that if these two radio stations are properly managed, political activists would learn that the opposition is not to be seen as "the enemy" that must be destroyed. The enemy that must be brutalised and even killed.
This is not democracy. It is anarchy and those who preach such hate messages have to be censured. Not with the use of violence in any form. Just take them off the air after the station has been fined!!!!
Radio broadcasting is a serious business and must be taken and treated as such. Not like a situation where you have someone in a disc jockey's booth in a night club!!!
Whether radio is there to educate, entertain and inform in whatever proportion, it must be the duty of the broadcasters to ensure that the truth and fairness to others is paramount no matter the circumstances.
Allow us to say here that the business of radio broadcasting is not a "Two by Foh" thing, it is serious business!!!
Another thing, Freetown may be the capital of the mother country and the seat of government and opposition, but right-thinking and sober-minded party activists should be thinking of extending their political radio stations to other parts of the country putting forward ideas in programmes that would show the benefits of education, good health and what can be done to increase agricultural productivity.
Remember this article in January last year when the APC proudly announced the setting up of their radio? It was all done under the then ruling SLPP. They may have been uncaring when it came to certain issues, but yet allowed an opposition party for the first time in the political history of Sierra Leone to go on the airwaves.
Gently, gently does it.
So let's now see a different attitude in the politics of broadcasting in Sierra Leone.
Many thanks and please allow those radio stations back on air!!!!