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Broadcasting regulator suspends local transmission of international news stations

(RSF/IFEX) - 3 December 2010 - Reporters Without Borders is astonished that the National Broadcasting Council (CNCA) has suspended local retransmission of all international radio and TV news stations amid continuing turmoil over the result of last weekend's presidential election.

In a communiqué signed by its president, Franck Anderson Kouassi, and read on national radio and television last night by its secretary-general, Félix Nanihio, the CNCA announced "the immediate suspension of the signals of all international radio and TV news stations carried by the Canal+ Horizon satellite service" in order to "preserve social peace, which has been seriously shaken."

"This abrupt decision limits Ivorians' access to news at a time when a great deal is happening in their country," Reporters Without Borders said. "We doubt that simply shutting down the foreign media is the appropriate response to the social unrest that Côte d'Ivoire is currently facing. During this period of uncertainty, the media should be free to cover the dispute between the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council without impediment."

Reporters Without Borders had previously hailed the enormous efforts made by many of the Ivorian media and the media regulatory authorities to provide balanced and professional coverage of the presidential campaign. It therefore regrets all the more that the tension surrounding the results has resulted in a reversion to former repressive responses as regards free speech and access to information.

Although quickly contradicted by the Constitutional Council, the Independent Electoral Commission's announcement that, according to provisional results, opposition politician Alassane Ouattara had defeated President Laurent Gbagbo was quickly reported on the international TV stations received in Côte d'Ivoire.

According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, all of the international and pan-African television news stations including TF1, France 24, Africa 24 and Vox Africa have been suspended. FM retransmission of Radio France Internationale has also been suspended. But the non-specialist TV stations and sport and entertainment stations are still being received without a problem. The Canal+ signal has not been suspended either.

It is not easy for foreign journalists to work under these circumstances. It is not easy for Ivorian journalists to work either. Reporters Without Borders has learned that two journalists with the opposition daily Le Mandat were taken last night to the headquarters of the Republican Guard and beaten before being released.

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