In the aftermath of the abrupt closure by government of controversial talk show host Henry Costa’s Roots FM, a Liberian journalist and BBC stringer Jonathan Paye-Layleh has added his voice to the many concerned voices, calling on the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia to exhaust all avenues in resolving issues surrounding the station’s closure.
Making a passionate plea to PUL president Charles Coffey on Thursday, Mr. Paye-Layeleh said, while appreciating PUL’s engagement with authorities on Root FM’s closure, such engagement should go beyond the issuance of a press statement after the closure.
“I believe if the main reason for which Roots FM was shut down, as stated in the Liberia Telecommunications Authority’s letter to Justice Minister Frank Musa Dean, is because the station was operating without a valid license, the Union can work with the station’s management to ensure that this important requirement is met. I am confining my plea to this aspect of the reasons for which the station was shut down because to the best of my understanding, the LTA communication to the justice minister did not mention any other reason than the station’s existence without a valid license.
I urge you to engage the National Media Council and old minds and hands in the media community and the PUL legal people to join your leadership in getting involve in whatever effort that would lead to the resolution of this aspect of the reasons for which Roots FM was closed,” Paye-Layleh said.
The BBC stringer noted, his plea comes against the background that whatever the reasons are for the action taken against Roots FM, “this is not the kind of news the Press Union of Liberia wants to hear go out of Liberia, especially as the Union marks its 55th anniversary this year”, further citing example of the case of FrontPage Africa’s Rodney Sieh, for which the media umbrella group took keen interest at the time.
“Just as the Press Union of Liberia should not encourage impunity and unprofessionalism, it should also not allow and support the targeting of institutions and individuals for what they believe in,” Paye-Layleh noted.
Meanwhile, PUL president Coffey, in acknowledging receipt of Mr. Paye-Layleh’s missive, assured that the Union is working with the Roots FM Radio station management and staff to ensure that due process is accorded and that the payment issue is addressed.
“Thanks for the reminder. As you indicated, the legal process is being pursued,” said Coffey.