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Media union slams broadcasting authority for gagging media

(MFWA/IFEX) - 12 April 2011 - The Union of Media Professionals in Benin (UPMB) is accusing the media regulatory body, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), of gagging the media in the country.

This followed the release on 28 March 2011 of HAAC's guidelines regarding the media's coverage of the country's parliamentary elections slated for 16 April. The guidelines prohibit the media from publishing or relaying statements that are "likely to disturb public order, incite violence, or tarnish the image of the country".

The new guidelines include about 70 clauses and are in effect from 1 to 17 April.

In a 31 March communiqué, the UPMB condemned HAAC's latest decision, which it said was intended to gag media coverage of the impending parliamentary election.

The UPMB further accused HAAC of jamming the frequency of Radio France International (RFI) on 29 March, hence denying the people of Benin news of the unfolding election campaign.

According to the UPMB, the HAAC's decision is not only a threat to press freedom but also stifles diverse media opinion in Benin, which HAAC has a constitutional duty to protect.

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