Sierra Leone’s State radio broadcaster has merged with the United Nations station in the West African country to form a new entity that aims to become an independent and professional provider of news and entertainment across the nation.
The new broadcaster, known as the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), came into being on 1 April after legislation allowing the merger of the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Service with UN Radio in Sierra Leone was passed by the country’s Parliament, according to Sputnik Kilambi, the UN Radio station manager in Freetown.
UN Radio in Sierra Leone has officially handed over its transmitters to SBC and UN-trained Sierra Leonean staff will be joining the new broadcaster, Ms. Kilambi said in an interview yesterday with UN Radio in New York.
“The UN continues to be involved not least because the seed money for the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation is coming from the [UN-managed] Peacebuilding Fund,” said Ms. Kilambi.
“International support is going to be required for some time yet so I see the UN continuing to play a driving role at least in the first year of this broadcaster’s existence,” she added.
Ms. Kilambi described the creation of the new broadcaster as “a victory for peace and democracy in Sierra Leone.” SBC will be run by an independent board of trustees tasked will ensuring that the broadcaster remains impartial and accountable to the people of Sierra Leone.
UN Radio has been broadcasting in Sierra Leone for eight years, initially as part of the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), which was created by the Security Council in 1999 to help the Government and other parties implement the agreement that ended civil war in the country.
UNAMSIL successfully completed its mandate in December 2005 and was succeeded by a new mission – the UN Integrated Office for Sierra Leone (UNIOSIL), established by the Council to help consolidate peace in the country.
The Security Council subsequently established the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL) and tasked it with providing political advice to foster peace, supporting and training the national police and security forces, building the capacity of democratic institutions and protecting human rights.