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Catholic broadcaster shut down ahead of protest march

(JED/IFEX) - Kinshasa, 15 February 2012 - On 15 February 2012, shortly after 7 a.m., broadcasts of Radio Télévision Catholique Elikya (RTCE) were halted. No official reason was provided to explain the sudden interruption of the broadcaster's signal, which came one day before a scheduled march by Catholics aimed at protesting the results of the 28 November elections. RTCE is a Catholic Church-owned religious broadcaster that broadcasts in Kinshasa, the capital.

Journaliste en danger (JED) learned that on 10 February RTCE received a letter from Communications and Media Minister Lambert Mende, ordering it to cease airing a certain commercial. The pretext for the move was vaguely noted as "a violation of the terms and conditions governing broadcasters."

"Should the [commercial] not cease airing immediately, I warn you that RTCE may be subject to a suspension order," the minister warned in his letter.

Contacted by JED, Sister Annie Zama, RTCE's director, said the station ceased airing the commercial as soon as it received the ministerial order. "We were taken aback by the sudden interruption of our signal after the rebroadcast of our television newscast. Seeking an explanantion for the move, we went in person to Téléconsult, the company that houses our transmitter. Security guards at the site refused to allow us in and told us to contact Minister Mende for details," she added.

Journaliste en danger (JED) is dismayed by RTCE's closure and urges Congolese authorities to provide an explanantion for the move.

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