FEBRUARY 11, 2005
Updated: March 10, 2005

Nana FM
Kanal FM
Radio Nostalgie
Fréquence 1


Security forces accompanied by representatives of Togo’s Telecommunication and Postal Services’ regulatory agency went to the offices of private radio stations Nana FM, Kanal FM, and Radio Nostalgie, as well as to the private television station TV7 and Fréquence 1, a radio station with the same owner, and ordered them off the air. The broadcasters are all based in the capital, Lomé.

The regulatory agency claimed that the stations owed the equivalent of thousands of dollars in unpaid broadcasting fees. Journalists at Nana FM and Kanal FM told CPJ that the stations’ phone lines were also cut.

Several hours after the stations had closed, a Lomé court ordered them suspended for one month at the request of the High Audiovisual and Communications Authority (HAAC), a government media regulatory body. According to local sources, the order accused the broadcasters of inciting “civil disobedience” and “racial hatred” on the air.

According to the Panafrican News Agency, riot police posted outside clashed with demonstrators who tried to prevent the stations’ closure.

The closures came amid growing unrest in the capital following the death of Gnassingbé Eyadema, who had ruled the country for 38 years, and the army’s swift move to install one of his sons, Faure Gnassingbé, as president in defiance of the constitution. Parliament later amended the constitution to legitimize the move, but there has been a chorus of regional and international protest.

Private radio stations in Togo have been broadcasting critical debates and interviews on the situation, drawing a number of threats from the ruling authorities. Directors and news editors of private stations were summoned on February 10 to a meeting at the HAAC, during which an army spokesman at the meeting told the radio stations that they must immediately stop the critical commentary.

On February 18, Fréquence 1 and TV 7 were allowed back on the air. Radio Nostalgie, Nana FM, and Kanal FM were back on air by February 24.