Oecusse Community Radio Station, Atoni Lifau has been off-air since December 2013 due to a broken STL (studio transmitter link). The Oecusse community relies heavily on Atoni Lifau to provide news and information to this isolated district of Timor-Leste and now with close to two months off-air the Oecusse community is seeking answers. Centre of Community Radio (CRC) the Government body responsible for providing technical support for Community Radio under the Secretary of State for Social Communications, are yet to respond to Atoni Lifua’s call for urgent assistance.
Atoni Lifau community radio is the main source of media for the central town and sub-districts of Oecusse. Other media such as Radio RTL and Radio Maubere have limited broadcast reach and can be difficult to access. Agustinu Elu, a lecturer at DIT KREA said that without Atoni Lifau on-air Oecusse is cut-off from daily news and local information. He said this has increased Oecusse’s sense of isolation which has already been heightened by inadequate access to safe transport to Dili since the Nakroma was sent to Indonesia for repairs in October 2013.
Another community member Carlos Mustafa from Oe-Nunu Ufe also raised concerns emphasizing community reliance on Atoni Lifau as a source of important information. He said with the onset of the wet season and increased transport costs people are finding it more difficult to leave Oecusse and access to national news via their community radio station is now of greater importance. Carlos Mustafa speaking on behalf of the community has called to Atoni Lifau and Government for answers on why their community radio station is off-air.
Station Manager of Radio Atoni Lifau, Jose Francisico Efe has stated that Atoni Lifua is off-air due to a problem with their STL caused by old and outdated equipment. Efe has contacted the CRC for support but is yet to receive a confirmation on when CRC will send technical support. Efe said that if the CRC technicians did not come to Oecusse soon to replace their STL Atoni Lifua will be forced to move their transmitter and antenna down to the station. This would enable Atoni Lifau to continue to broadcast but it will greatly limit their broadcast capacity, leaving all sub-districts outside the central town without access to information and news.