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IMC Concludes Hearing of Complaint by the PC of Tankoro Chiefdom in Kono

IMC Concludes Hearing of Complaint by the PC of Tankoro Chiefdom in Kono

The Independent Media Commission (IMC) has concluded the hearing of a complaint from Paramount Chief Paul N. Saquee V of Tankoro Chiefdom, Kono District AGAINST Eastern Radio Kono at its Regional Office in Makeni.

The particulars of the complaint as narrated by the Paramount Chief were that on Saturday 6th November, 2010, Eastern Radio of Kono broadcast several derogatory statements about him.  The offending statements which were in the form of texts sent by listeners described him as being “irresponsible”; a nigger from America” and a ”stone worshiper that does not believe in God”.

He however admitted that he did not hear the statements himself but was told about them by several of his subjects who threatened to burn the radio station if it continued to broadcast those remarks. He said that he requested the radio station several times to send him the recordings, but they refused and instead sent notable people in the community to apologise to him.

The Complaints Committee listened to the recording presented by the Officer -in -Charge of the Radio Station, Mrs. Finda Margaret Allieu, but did not hear any of the statements that the Paramount Chief had complained about.  Asked by members of the Committee whether the  recording had been “doctored”, Mrs. Allieu responded in the negative adding that she had refused to release the recording to the Paramount Chief as his radio station believed that it was only the IMC that could make such a request to a radio station.

After lengthy deliberation on the matter, the Complaints Committee concluded that since the statements which were the subject of the complaint by the Paramount Chief were not heard by the PC himself but allegedly by people in the community, there could have been some misrepresentations in the wording.  It was also possible that the radio station had cleverly deleted the offending portions of the recording to save their skin.

In their summing up, the Committee pointed out that with the current level of freedom of expression now being enjoyed in the country as part of good governance, people believe that they can express their views on radio especially in call-in and SMS programmes. They pointed out that along with that freedom, the public must exercise caution to ensure they do not derail the country’s hard earned peace.

They pointed out to Eastern Radio, Kono and all other radio stations in the country that in this pre-election year, they must be extremely careful in their handling of call in and SMS programmes as a single statement made by a caller or texter that an individual may find offensive may ignite repercussion that may lead to chaos and mayhem in the community.

They read the section of the IMC Act and Media Code of Practice that deal with this issue and pointed out that given the level of staff attrition of radio stations, regular trainings should be conducted by station managers for their producers and presenters.

The Committee issued a stern warning to the management of the radio station to handle all programmes with extreme care and responsibility particularly in the run up to the 2012 elections and not to allow any one that has scores to settle with an opponent to do so through the radio.

The Committee ordered the Officer in charge of the radio station, Mrs. Finda Margaret Allieu to apologise to the Paramount Chief in the presence of members and to announce a statement of apology to the Paramount Chief and the people of Kono three times using the most popular programmes on the radio station.

Paramount Chief Paul Saquee V thanked the Complaints Committee for giving him the opportunity to present his case. He noted that the country was moving towards the right direction in establishing institutions like the IMC which can deal with complaints from the public against the media speedily without fear or favour.  He expressed satisfaction with the manner in which the case had been handled by the Commission and believed that it will send a strong message to other radio stations to exercise caution and responsibility in the way they disseminate information to the public.

On behalf of  the radio station, Mrs. Allieu tendered her unreserved apologies to the Paramount Chief and promised to carry out the directives of the committee more than the three times stipulated.  She hugged the Paramount Chief and shook hands with him in the full view of members of the Committee.

The meeting which was chaired by the acting Chairman of the Complaints Committee, Commissioner Christo Johnson was attended bhy the Chariperson of the IMC, Mrs. Bernadette Cole, Commissioner Isaac Massaquoi, Commissioner Mohamed Samura, Commissioner Joshua Nicol and Commissioner Augustine Garmoh.

Issued by the Independent Media Commission

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