Guinea - Regulator sanctions two privately-owned radio stations over popular programmes

Reporters Without Borders is disturbed and disappointed to learn that the National Communication Council (CNC) has temporarily suspended a programme on privately-owned Planète FM in which journalists discuss news developments and has imposed a broadcasting ban on its host, Mandian Sidibe.

The CNC, which is responsible for regulating Guinea’s broadcast media, also issued a warning to another station, Espace FM, about its popular phone-in programme, "Les Grandes Gueules" (Big Mouths).

“These new sanctions reflect the CNC’s continuing mistrust of discussion and phone-in broadcasts,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Guinean authorities clearly have a problem with the outspoken nature of these programmes, which is part of the reason for their success.

“Nonetheless, gagging privately-owned radio stations is inappropriate and reactionary. We urge the CNC to lift these sanctions.”

The CNC announced on 13 December that Sidibe was banned from broadcasting for a week and that his programme, called "La Ronde des Journalistes," was suspended for five weeks.

At the same time, Espace FM received a formal warning that "Les Grandes Gueules," one of Conakry’s most popular radio programmes, was guilty of “repeated violations of professional conduct and ethics.”

The suspension of "La Ronde des Journalistes" was prompted by a complaint which presidential adviser Fodé Idrissa Touré, also known as "Briqui Momo", lodged with the CNC.

The legitimacy of the CNC’s decisions has been challenged by the Guinean Union of Free Radio and TV Broadcasters (Urtelgui), which said in a statement that “the alleged defamation cited in these two decisions is a matter for the courts. Only a judge can decide whether defamation took place, not the CNC.”

Urging the CNC to rescind its decisions, the statement added that “government officials and private individuals are hiding behind the CNC in order to protect themselves from media criticism, even when it is well-founded.”

Reporters Without Borders criticized the CNC’s overzealous and repressive tendencies in a July 2011 report entitled "Turning the page: hopes for media freedom in Niger and Guinea.” More information.