Sierra Leone ALERT: Newspaper fined

Friday, November 14, 2008

Awareness Times, a Freetown based newspaper, was on Thursday November 6, 2008 fined 5 million Leones, approximately ($1,700) by the Independent Media Commission (IMC) for failing to publish the imprint of the paper.

According to Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent, a release circulated by the IMC on Friday November 7, 2008 stated that the Commission found that the October 29, 2008, November 2, 3 and 5, 2008 editions contravened provisions of sections 32 (1) and (2) of the IMC Act 2000.

The IMC provisions, in section 32 (1) and (2), state that every newspaper should publish its imprint on the back or front of the paper for identification of its address and ownership, failing which the paper will be fined an amount not exceeding $1700.

In respect of the provisions, the Commission decided that the  Awareness Times newspaper be fined 5 million Leones to be paid within 7 days and to conform forthwith with the provisions, failing which further action will be taken against the newspaper as stipulated in the IMC Act 2000.

However Dr. Sylvia Blyden, the Awareness Times publisher said it was not intentional that the location of the newspaper's offices were not published.

"What happened was that the design layout specialist responsible for designing the back page where we usually place our address mistakenly inserted a coloured strip advert over the space where we normally have the office address and this wiped it out. So on the four particular days that the advert ran, the office address was wiped off by mistake. It was a simple inadvertent mistake that other newspapers had made in the past", she said.

The Sierra Leone Journalists Association (SLAJ) has not commented on the decision since the current executive is already dissolved pending elections at the end of November this year.

Media Foundation for West Africa