DRC minister reopens 22 stations

New York, December 21, 2007— CPJ welcomed the DRC’s decision yesterday to lift an October ban on 22 of 38 radio and television stations.

The new minister of communication and media, Emile Bongeli, signed a decree authorizing the 22 radio and television stations to return to the air, including Canal Kin Television, Molière TV, and Radio Lisanga TV, according to news reports and regional media watchdog Journaliste En Danger. Bongeli’s predecessor, Toussaint Tshilombo Send, had banned the 38 stations on October 20 for alleged noncompliance with government registration procedures, particularly unpaid license fees, local journalists reported.

“We welcome this decision to partially lift the ban,” said CPJ’s Executive Director Joel Simon. “The sweeping shutdown of 38 stations at once amounted to an overreaction to what was an entirely administrative problem.”

The minister of communication’s chief of staff, Faustin Fwafa, told CPJ that the 16 remaining broadcasters are still banned for not complying with government regulations, such as operating without official authorization or not paying required fees or taxes.

“They continue to operate as if in the jungle, without papers and without willingness to cooperate with authorities,” Fwafa said. The 22 reinstated broadcasters had reached a minimum of 70 percent of the legal criteria required to broadcast in the country, he said.
CPJ named the DRC this year one of the world’s worst backsliders on press freedom.