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Cameroon14 March 2003

Broadcast media under threat

Reporters Without Borders today voiced concern about the recent closure of two privately-owned TV channels, RTA and Canal 2, which has threatened the development of diverse, independent broadcast media in Cameroon. Although the country’s laws provide for privately-owned broadcast media, the government has ignored all requests from TV broadcasters for authorisation, forcing them to operate illegally. Reporters Without Borders urged the authorities to take the necessary steps to regularize the status of all the broadcast media and, in particular, to allow RTA and Canal 2 to resume operating.

Provincial governors suspended the terrestrial broadcasting of RTA and Canal 2 on 19 February at the behest of communication minister Jacques Fame Ndongo on grounds of illegality. The two companies were authorised to carry the programming of foreign media but not to broadcast their own programmes, because the companies that own them, AEA and TV+ respectively, do not have permits to set up and run privately-owned broadcast companies.

The minister’s decision came after the broadcast of a number of political debates in which the government was criticised. Aside from RTA and Canal 2, there is only one other privately-owned channel, which mainly broadcasts films.

The communication minister has publicly attacked the media, accusing them of "repeatedly and intentionally disregarding the profession’s universal and sacrosanct principles by interfering in an untimely manner in the privately life of citizens and government bodies." He also threatened broadcast media entrepreneurs with more rigorous tax collection.

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Six journalists briefly arrested and TV programme interrupted for referring to sensitive subject
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Private radio suspended, independent newspapers prevented from appearing
22 February - Cameroon
Communication minister suspends TV station

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