By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
The plenary of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, June 17, 2014, unanimously voted to pass the Rural Community Radio Stations Sustainability Act of 2012.
Following a reading of a report from the Joint Committee on Information, Broadcast and Tourism, Ways, Means and Finance and Judiciary, members of the House endorsed the sustainability Act to ensure that all local radio stations are given financial support for information dissemination.
The committee’s report was read during the 36th day sitting of the Third Session of the House on Capitol Hill.
The bill which was introduced by Grand Bassa County District # 4 Representative, Jeh Byron Browne, calls for subsidies to be provided to rural radio stations within the 15 political sub-division of the country.
In the report, the Joint Committee stated that the bill is in line with article 15(b) of the Constitution of Liberia.
Article 15(b) states: “every person shall have the right to freedom of speech and of the press, academic freedom to receive and impart knowledge and information available.”
Montserrado County Representative, Richmond Anderson who chairs the House Standing Committee on Information, Broadcast and Tourism said research and findings show that the proposed legislation has the overwhelming support of Liberians especially the rural dwellers.
Rep. Anderson indicated that the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and the Association of Community Radios are motherly organizations that would supervise or monitor the subsidies allotted to rural radios.
According to lawmaker Anderson, the bill will promote the decentralization of information to rural dwellers and the country at large.
“Our research findings further show that many of the rural community radios operating in Liberia are owned by the community in which they operate, except for few owned by individuals, ”another member of the committee said.
The bill has been forwarded to the House of Senate for concurrence and later to President Sirleaf for signature and printing into hand bill.
This bill has the propensity to disseminate government’s policies and activities throughout the length and breadth of the country. According to the findings, it is observed that there are currently fifty community radio stations in the country,” the report noted.