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Radio Monitoring Report: VOL. 1, ISSUE #0101


Conducted by:
The International League for Human Rights (ILHR), New York
and The Center for Media, Education & Technology (C-MET), Sierra Leone

The below text is part of the report. Download full report including Programming Schedules (MS Word, 17 pages)

This report was researched and written by the International League for Human Rights (a New York-based NGO with affiliate status at the United Nations) and the League's Freetown-based affiliate NGO, the Center for Media, Education and Technology (C-MET). The radio monitoring was done in December 2000.

The League wishes to thank the Ford Foundation for its support of The League and C-MET's media development programs currently underway in Sierra Leone.

For additional information: Please contact: Kakuna Kerina, Africa Program Director, International League for Human Rights, 212-661-0480 ext. 10;

Writers: Kakuna Kerina and David Tam-Baryoh
Editors: Kakuna Kerina, Brant Tinsley
Research: Cassandra Anis Cole, Ella Miriam Conteh, Sheik Mohamed Kabba, Augustus Kamara, Issa B.M. Kamara, Arthur Ekundayo Pratt, Ivan Ajibola Thomas
Design: Brant Tinsley
Believers Broadcasting Network (BBN) FM 93 is an indigenously owned Christian radio broadcaster established in 1992, established to "enlighten the hearts of people through the preaching and songs of God's words, and to convert new souls for Christ." The station is licensed through the Ministry of Information as a religious station, and it is registered with the Administrator General's office. BBN, which is headed by Mr. Lansford Wright, currently employs ten broadcast journalists at its studios located at the Signal Hill area of Freetown.

This station is funded through donations from Christian individuals and organizations, and through request and announcement fees generated from citizens of all religions. The Station Manager edits all programming before it is certified by the Program Director. Programs are aired in both pre-recorded and live broadcast formats. BBN has no relationships with international broadcast networks such as BBC or Voice of America (VOA). Training programs for staff are organized quarterly.

BBN broadcasts twelve hours daily beginning at 6:00 am, with a midday break of approximately 25 to 40 minutes. The programming schedule, which is aired exclusively in Krio, although including some news, is overwhelmingly religious in content, offering scripture readings and Christian music. Public discussion-style programs, which encourage public participation through the telephone, occur two to three times weekly. Having the advantage of being stationed on the highest cliff of Signal Hill, west of Freetown, BBN can be heard as far as Central Freetown and in parts of Cline Town in eastern Freetown.

KISS was established by Andrew Koroma in June 1996, three months after the inauguration of President Ahmed Tejan Kabba. The station was launched with a staff of eight: five journalists and three support staff. The studio and transmitter are located on Candy Mountain overlooking Bo. Its signal is received throughout the entire township of Bo, and during the dry season, KISS can be heard as far as Calaba Town, in the East End of Freetown.

Immediately after the May 25, 1997 Armed Forces Revolutionary Council coup d'etat, the station was pressured by soldiers who wanted to use KISS as a mouthpiece of the regime. The station managers and workers refused to comply, and subsequently the station was off the air and closed down in June 1997. In April 1998, it resumed broadcast and has continued to date.

The majority of its programs are aired in Krio and Mende, appealing to the broadest range of citizens in the area. Broadcast programs included health, farming, education, and Voice of America pre-recorded programming. KISS is also the only outlet for government announcements in the area.

On July 7, 1997, Radio Democracy FM 98.1 was launched and began broadcasting from Signal Hill in the West End of Freetown. The station, which was registered as a charitable and non-profit organization with the stated objective of promoting the principles of democracy, human rights, good governance and other developmental issues, is funded through commercials, advertisements and sponsored programs. With financial support from the British government, Radio Democracy launched its initial broadcasts from Lungi International airport as a clandestine radio.

Because Radio Democracy is regarded as a pro-government station, its listenership is comprised mainly of civil servants and government functionaries. Local businesses also listen to the station, because of the Market Watch program that announces prices for commodities such as rice, pepper, sugar and flour, and other important items like cement.

Originally slated as an organ for civil society, the station's initial broadcasters were Alie Bangura (now Sierra Leone's High Commissioner to Ghana), Dr. Julius Spencer (Minister for Information) and Ms. Hannah Foullah (presently the station's Director). After the overthrow of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) in February of 1998, the government promoted Radio Democracy as cooperative, yet its ownership remains in question.

Management and Staff
The eight-person board of directors is comprised of government-appointed members. Radio Democracy's staff is comprised of six full-time and thirteen part-time freelance journalists, and eleven support staff, including the engineers.

In-house training sessions are sporadically organized; therefore, staff members are encouraged to enhance their professional skills on study-leave with pay. At this time, two staff members are enrolled in the Mass Communications Course at Fourah Bay College. Distance learning is also encouraged, and one staff member is pursuing an online degree through the Internet.

Programs are produced manually using the reel-to-reel method. The station broadcasts for sixteen hours daily (6:00 am to 1:00 pm and 2:45 pm to 12:00 midnight) on Monday through Friday, and for eighteen hours daily (6:30 am to 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm to 2:30 am) on Saturday & Sunday. The Radio Democracy transmitter is located on Signal Hill in the West End of Freetown and can be heard as far in the Cline Town area in East End, Freetown.

Approximately 98% of all programming is broadcast in Krio, and 2% in English. A list of weekly, public participation programs and their lengths follows below (it should be noted that Patient, Beatrice & Elfreda airs daily, Monday through Friday).

· Bizness na Salone: 45 minutes
· Blow Mind (letters on issues of interest): 45 minutes
· Book tok: 45 minutes
· Leh wi tok: (Issues of the day): 45 minutes
· Patient, Beatrice & Elfreda: 1 hour
· Well bodi bizness: 45 minutes
· Wetin di bybul say: 45 minutes

There is no set amount of time assigned to the programs' studio and phone-in interviews and/or discussions; allocated time for such programming is dependent on audience response to the issues involved.

Download full report including Programming Schedules (MS Word, 17 pages)

© Copyright 2001, International League for Human Rights