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Liberian radio station shut down

(CEMESP/IFEX) - 19 October 2012 - Radio Veritas, a Catholic-run radio station in Liberia, has been shut down. The radio station was shut down after Archbishop Jerome Ziegler told a news conference that the station had some technical or equipment problems that needed some adjustment.

It was first reported by FrontPageAfrica that the Catholic Diocese, the owner of the radio station, needed a sum of $450 USD to do some repairs of the station's equipment, but was faced with financial constraints and could not afford such an amount.

However, it is widely believed that the reason cited by the Archbishop for the closure could be far from the truth.

In an interview on a local radio station in Monrovia, station manager Ade Weade Kerkulah admitted to equipment problems but was quick to say that the problem was not major enough to warrant a closure.

She said the closure was due the constant complaints to the Catholic Church - allegedly by some higher ups in government - that the station was going contrary to its "vision statement" and has embarked upon reporting on critical issues. Kerkulah told the Center for Media Studies & Peace Building (CEMESP) that the Catholic Church has also announced that it would pay severance benefits to every employee of the station, and revamp all currently aired programs.

Recently, Radio Veritas has been very vocal in reporting hard news stories. One example is the angle the station took when reporting on the death of four cadets of the Liberia Bureau of Maritime Affairs.

A few months back, a tough talking, provocative program entitled "Topical Issues" was removed from the programming log of Radio Veritas on the orders of Archbishop Ziegler.   

CEMESP's Executive Director, Malcolm Joseph, is quoted as saying that the action of the Catholic Church is another way of using private owners to silence the views of independent voices in the country.

Mr. Joseph said that CEMESP's legal defence team is currently working with Radio Veritas journalists to ensure that the Catholic Church pays them their severance benefit, in accordance with the law.

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