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    Sierra Leone-National Broadcaster Strike

    Sierra Leone: Staff of broke national broadcaster on strike

    APA-Freetown (Sierra Leone)

    Aggrieved by poor working conditions, the staff of Sierra Leone’s struggling national public broadcaster, Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) on Tuesday embarked on an indefinite strike action.

    According to reports, the protesting staff members are demanding the resignation of the management over its failure to give them the necessary facilities to do their work.
    They say they lack equipment like computers, cameras and even reliable electricity supply. They also accused the management of condoning political interference in the public service broadcaster.
    SLBC was transformed into what was supposed to be an independent broadcaster from the former Sierra Leone Broadcasting Services (SLBS), under a United Nations-funded project meant to strengthen the country’s democracy.

    This was after the end of the civil war. Like many other public institutions, SLBS had been found to have contributed to the factors that led to the civil war, by serving as a propaganda tool for the former regime of Siaka Stevens and Joseph Momoh.
    The resulting SLBC was meant to function independently, without interference. But the Act paving the way for its creation also provided for the government to provide an annual subvention to fund its operations.
    According to reports, the Director General of the broadcaster, Elvis Gbanbom Hallowel, on Tuesday claimed he had “never received a dime from the government as subvention” since his appointment in 2010.
    SLBC has also been accused of bias toward the incumbent party, particularly during election periods.
    Critics also say the provision in the Act creating SLBC, which allows the president to appoint the Director General and his deputy, has helped create the conditions for political interference.

    KC/afm/APA

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