The Civil Law Court has effectuated the closure of Sarafina Ventures and Communications Inc. (LOVE FM 105.1 and Love TV Channel 7) and LIB 24 Radio operated by LIB 24 Incorporated, based on a Petition for Preliminary Injunction growing out of a Petition for Declaratory Judgment filed by the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) through the Ministry of Justice.
A statement issued by the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism said the closure of the station is predicated upon the fact that Sarafina Ventures and Communication Inc. (Love FM 105.1) has not regularized its status nor paid its license and other fees for over 5 years in keeping with relevant provisions of the Telecommunications Licensing Authorization Regulations.
LTA regulations also require that any use of radio frequencies must be in accordance with a valid radio spectrum license or radio frequency authorization.
MICAT further states that in addition to the station’s failure to regularize its status in keeping with law, Sarafina Ventures and Communications Inc. (Love FM 105.1 and Love TV Channel 7) unilaterally and without prior written consent of the LTA, transferred the frequency 105.1 to another corporation, LIB-24 Incorporated which operated LIB 24 Radio prior to the closure.
The unilateral transfer of the frequency 105.1 to LIB24 Inc. without the expressed consent of the LTA is in violation of Part VI, Section 15(1) and Section 20 of the LTA Regulations 0001(2008) which provides that “any Licensee wishing to transfer ownership or control of the License shall apply to the LTA in writing at least ninety days prior to the proposed date of transfer, or such other period as may be determined by the LTA”.
The Government regrets that in the wake of the democratic atmosphere prevailing in the country with media pluralism and freedom at its core, a media institution like the Sarafina Ventures and Communication Inc (Love FM) will woefully engage in circumventing the established rules and procedures governing the communications sector, and defrauding the government of more than US$50,000.00 in unpaid fees.
The government said that prior to resorting to court action, there had been series of discussions and exchange of communications over several years with the management of Sarafina Ventures & Communications Inc. during which it implored the corporation to accede to the requirements, pay the required fees and legitimize its operations.
Several invoices were delivered to Sarafina Ventures & Communication requesting payment over a number of years, but it failed to do so. Nevertheless, Sarafina Ventures and Communications Inc. proceeded to transfer the license and or frequency to LIB 24 Incorporated even though it was no longer legitimately assigned the frequency nor received authorization to do so in keeping with law.
The statement further said that it is the duty of the LTA as a regulatory agency to ensure that the public interest is protected against the abuse and illegal use of scarce and finite spectrum resources in Liberia. With over 50 Radio Stations now broadcasting in the country, the government re-emphasizes the urgent and critical need for strict adherence to spectrum management laws and procedures to avert chaos in the broadcast media landscape.