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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Cameroon: SKY ONE Radio Shutdown

The government of Cameroon has closed down a private radio station in Yaoundé, Sky One Radio.
Reports say about a dozen gendarmes stormed the office of the radio station, in Yaoundé’s central business district, yesterday, waving a decision from the Minister of Communication, requesting the radio be closed. The ministerial decision was dated august 14, 2009.

Communications minister, Mr. Issa Tchiroma, had suspended a talk show called ‘Le Tribunal’ (The Courtroom), on Sky One radio, last week, on claims that the program goes beyond the traditional function of a radio program, “that is to inform, educate, and entertain”.
The offices of the radio were also closed in Douala, the economic first-city of Cameroon.
Communications officials also accuse the controversial show, of trying to play the role of the judiciary, sometimes venting hate messages, and insults at individuals.

The Controversial Talk show

Le Tribunal, the radio’s most popular show, hosted by Duval Lebel Eballe, aka President, reportedly accused the embassy of the Republic of Congo in Yaoundé for abandoning one of her citizens in distress. The embassy allegedly filed a complaint.

It has been a talking point in Yaoundé over the past weeks that the host of the program could soon face repression from government, as the talk show increasingly touched sensitive issues, sometimes accusing highly placed officials of offenses.

Listeners say the host had in another program accused the vice Prime Minister, Minister of Justice, Keeper of the Seal, Mr. Ahmadou Ali, asking him to explain why he had seized the tractors of some Chinese contractors.

Le Tribunal that airs on week days as from 9a.m. local time spends about 2 hours ‘judging’ social conflicts, like in a courtroom. “The outspoken host, sometimes called accused persons on their cell phones, and put them on air without any prior notification” Yves Marc, a Yaoundé resident observed.

Media Freedom

It is not the first time a media organ is being closed down by the government of Cameroon. Equinox radio and equinox TV were amongst the latest organs to be shut down by government, for about 6 months in January 2009.
Magic FM in Yaoundé was also shut down in February 2008 over its coverage of the February food riots in Cameroon.

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