Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Guinea widens media freedom with more radio stations

Guinea will grant broadcasting licences to more than a dozen private radio stations this year in a widening of media freedom in the West African country, the government said yesterday. The move follows the ending of a state broadcasting monopoly last year. It was taken at a four-day government seminar held by Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate to chart policies to haul Guinea out of political and economic crisis.
“To reinforce freedom of expression in a positive spirit of inclusive participatory democracy, the government has decided to grant between now and the end of 2007 frequencies and licences to more than a dozen private radios,” an official statement released on Monday said. Since the end of the broadcasting monopoly last year, at least four private radios had been granted licences. But several of these were forced to temporarily go off the air or halt live news broadcasts in February, when martial law declared by Conte allowed the armed forces to control the media. At least one station, Liberty FM, was ransacked by soldiers, who briefly detained two staff members.
Media freedoms were restored when martial law ended under the consensus deal that allowed Kouyate’s appointment. Even before the February crackdown, Guinea ranked 109 in the 168-nation 2006 Press Freedom Index published by press freedom watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
(Source: Reuters/R Netherlans Media Network Weblog)