Peacebuilding and Public Service Media: Lessons from Star Radio and media development in Liberia
|Title||Peacebuilding and Public Service Media: Lessons from Star Radio and media development in Liberia|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|Degree||MSc in Media, Communication and Development|
|Number of Pages||41|
|University||London School of Economics and Political Science|
This study explores the case of Star Radio in an effort to contribute to the debate about media development in peacebuilding contexts. Star Radio, one of Liberia’s leading nationallybroadcast radio stations, went off-air at the end of 2010 following a staff strike. Started as an international project with funding from international donors, the station did not have the capacity to compete in a challenging market when donor funding stopped; financial problems were what ultimately resulted in the staff grievances. Staff perceptions that the station’s management lacked independence, however, prolonged the stand-off, which proved impossible for the station to overcome. In uncovering these dynamcis and exploring Star’s role in the media landscape, this study highlights a number of important issues about media development in post-conflict countries. As a review of the current literature about media development reveals, the liberal democratic principles upon which media development was founded often lead to prioritizing support for both local and private media. In contexts of peacebuilding, however, both national and public service-style media may be of critical importance to the concurrent state-building and nationbuilding exercises. Using interviews to understand the issues that led to Star Radio’s closure, this study argues that it may be impossible for stations attempting to provide national public service to be either fully commercial or partially state-financed. In such cases, it is important for all actors to prioritize the value of public service-style media, rather than focusing on a debate between the value of the two business models: private- versus public-sector media.Delinking the concept of public service from public sector and embedding media development needs within broader national development strategies may allow media development and development actors to identify more creative approaches to supporting public service-style media.