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Democratic Republic of Congo 21 January 2005

Three suspended radio and TV stations back on the air

Two TV stations and a radio station silenced by the government on 18 January began broadcasting again on 21 January after the Binza Météo transmission center in Kinshasa restored their signal, according to Journalist in Danger, a local partner organization of Reporters Without Borders.

The stations - Canal Congo TV (CCTV), Canal Kin TV (CKTV) and Radio Liberté Kinshasa (RALIK) - are owned by one of the country’s four vice-presidents, former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is in dispute with President Joseph Kabila. The shutdown order came from information minister Henri Mova Sakanyi.

A ban imposed at the same time on news, political and phone-in broadcasts by religious and other specialist stations was still in force.

January 21, 2005

Crackdown on broadcasting medias

Reporters Without Borders condemned a sudden crackdown on the broadcast media on 18 January in which the broadcasts of three stations were cut without any warning or court order, and specialized and religious radio and TV stations were told they can no longer broadcast talk shows and phone-ins or political programming.

"Suspending or banning news media in this fashion is never an appropriate solution to editorial excesses," the organisation said. "Religious and community radio stations are the main source of news and information for the population around the country, so it is unacceptable to prevent them covering the news."

Reporters Without Borders added that the best way to avoid dangerous abuses was to "make journalists aware of their responsibilities."

The broadcasts of Canal Congo TV (CCTV), Canal Kin TV (CKTV) and Radio Liberté Kinshasa (RALIK) were suspended by means of a phone call on 18 January to the Binza Méteo transmission centre saying the signals of all three stations were to be cut on orders of press and information minister Henri Mova Sakanyi.

The three stations belong to former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is one of the country’s four vice-presidents under a power-sharing agreement. Bemba’s relations with President Joseph Kabila are currently very tense.

Journalist in Danger (JED), a Reporters Without Borders partner organisation, said the decision to suspend the three stations’ broadcast was taken after press conference held by former transport and communications minister Joseph Olenghankoy, who heads the Renovating Forces for Union and Solidarity (FONUS), a member of the shaky ruling coalition.

Olenghankoy reportedly referred to President Kabila as a "foreigner" and accused him and his associates of embezzlement, "collusion with the forces of aggression" and of possessing a "private militia consisting of Interahamwe and former members of the FAR [Rwandan Armed Forces]," who were responsible for the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

In a statement released on 18 January, the press and information minister said religious and specialist radio and TV stations were being banned from "broadcasting political and news programmes" because of their "persistent excesses." He added that, "in accordance with the regulations," these radio and TV stations were banned from "serving as a support for political propaganda," and that "all phone-in programmes are suspended until further notice."

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