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Togo18 March 2003

Tropik FM back on the air


Radio Tropik FM returned to the air on 15 March after the national broadcasting authority (HAAC) ended the station’s two-week suspension, asking it to avoid the "excesses" that led to its shutdown. The management said it would make changes in the discussion programme concerned, which aired opposition views. Station boss Albert Biki Tchékin said the move was "similar to censorship, but we’re going to see how we can reorganise the show to still allow people to say what they think."


Private radio station closed by presidential order

On 28 February 2003, the Audiovisual and Communications High Authority (Haute Autorité de l’audiovisuel et de la communication, HAAC) announced the closure of the private radio station Tropik FM "until further notice." Reporters Without Borders condemns this unacceptable move and urges the authorities to do everything within their power to ensure that the station is allowed to resume broadcasting as soon as possible. The organisation also notes that Tropik FM is the second private radio station to be closed by the authorities in the past year. Both stations frequently featured opposition voices on the air.

Reporters Without Borders recalls that President Gnassingbé Eyadéma is included on the organisation’s list of international press freedom predators.

President Eyadéma accuses Tropik FM of allowing the opposition to insult the regime. Station director Albert Biki Tchékin was summoned to the head of state’s residence on 28 February. The president particularly complained about the broadcast of a programme called "Civic and Political Forum", which features political debates and is followed by a live public call-in programme. Tchékin stated, "Nobody insulted the head of state. When we invite opposition representatives we also invite people who are close to the government. People often give an emotional response in the street." He added that his radio station was even prohibited from broadcasting music.

Reporters Without Borders recalls that the private station Radio Victoire was closed on 7 February 2002. The radio station was accused of not complying with the HAAC’s formal demand that the station cease broadcasting several "controversial" programmes that "led their hosts to make impassioned and defamatory statements that discredit [Togo’s] constitutional and administrative authorities." One of the programmes had featured a denunciation of human rights violations in the country.

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