The Chadian press has become more structured. Newly-formed professional associations did not hesitate to oppose certain government measures. The emergence of a significant degree of solidarity among the news media was demonstrated by the decision of editors to stop producing newspapers for a week in December to protest against the detention of a trainee journalist.
The regulatory High Council for Communication (HCC) continued to act as a link between government and press, and on several occasions relayed the government’s concerns about the way the privately-owned news media covered the news.
The arrival in Chad of a number of international oil companies to begin pumping oil for export has been a boon for the print media. The oil companies bought advertising space in the biggest newspapers, freeing them from dependency on sales. Circulation continued to be low in a country with high illiteracy and still many problems for distribution.
Privately-owned radio stations, which first appeared in 2000, continued to grow rapidly and draw more and more listeners away from the state-owned radio network, despite the efforts of its journalists to win more editorial independence. The HCC continued to create problems for the privately-owned stations that went too far in the quest for freedom and independence.
A journalist arrested
The prime minister’s press service invited all the news media to the headquarters of the political security police on 16 November 2002 for a display of detainees alleged to have held up N’Djamena storekeepers, but not all journalists were welcomed on arrival. Police turned back reporters from FM Liberté, a privately-owned radio station, and L’Observateur, a privately-owned newspaper and detained Ngabo Djaha, a trainee journalist with Le Temps, another newspaper. Djaha was held for 24 hours and interrogated, and his equipment was confiscated. In a show of protest, the Association of Privately-Owned Newspaper Editors (AEPT) stopped producing newspapers during the week of 1-7 December, while three privately-owned radio stations suspended broadcasts for two days, saying the invitation had been a "trap" to humiliate the independent news media.
Pressure and obstruction
Hassane Boussar, editor in chief of the state-owned TV broadcaster Télétchad and Yacoub Ahmat, one of his journalists, were sanctioned by the station’s management in mid-January because then-Prime Minister Nagoum Yamassoum was criticised on the air. The Television Staff Collective (CATEL) announced on 21 January that it would stage a six-day strike if the sanctions against Boussar and Yamassoum were not lifted. The sanctions were lifted after they wrote letters of apology to the management.
The HCC shut FM Liberté down from 11 February to 4 March for violating regulations banning privately-owned radio stations from broadcasting news "liable to cause a breach of the peace." The radio station had reported that Chadian citizens were detained by the military and manhandled during a university student demonstration in neighbouring Cameroon. As a result, students of a secondary school in N’Djamena staged a protest on 4 February against Cameroonian citizens in Chad in which several persons were injured.
The director of the community radio station Radio Brakoss was interrogated on 15 February by members of the political security branch of the police who told him the station’s coverage of a strike by peasants in Moïssala, in the south of the country, was inappropriate.
On 30 March, the HCC banned privately-owned and community radio stations from broadcasting "any political programme or programme of a political nature." The HCC also announced that state-run radio broadcasts on the election campaign could be suspended if comments were made that were "insulting, provocative or contrary to the laws in effect."
The HCC told representatives of the privately-owned news media at a meeting on 12 November that the government was not pleased with coverage of the situation in the north of the country and on the border with the Central African Republic.