Opposition Radio ordered shut down

MAY 8, 2008

Posted June 6, 2008

Unity Radio

On May 8, 2008, the opposition-run Unity Radio station in Freetown was ordered shut down by the presidential press secretary, Sheka Tarawalie. Tarawalie said the station had installed an antenna that exceeded frequency regulations and was interfering with the airwaves of other radio stations. The station, however, was legally registered, and had not been banned from broadcasting by the Independent Media Commission.

Bernadette Cole, chairperson of the commission, told CPJ that Unity Radio should have issued a courtesy letter notifying the ministry when it installed the antenna with the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service. Cole added that the lack of such notification did not constitute grounds to close down the station.

The Sierra Leone People’s Party, which runs the station, also argued that frequency regulations are enforced by the Independent Media Commission and the National Telecommunication Company–not the government.

Cole said on May 21 that the station was already back on the air and that UnityRadio has promised to change their frequency level to fit broadcasting regulations.