Togo shuts down private radio station permanently

Togolese authorities shut down the leading private Radio Légende FM on August 27, 2013, after suspending the station for one month in connection with its coverage of concluded parliamentary elections, according to news reports.

Togo’s Broadcast and Communications High Authority (HAAC) on July 25, 2013, suspended Radio Légende for one month after the station broadcasted live that electoral fraud was being perpetrated in the home of a local official. The allegations proved false, according to news reports. Police shut down the station during the live broadcast without a warrant, news reports said.

Kokoun Tozoun, HAAC president, told CPJ that Radio Légende’s coverage had incited the public to violence and that police intervention had been necessary to ensure security.

On August 23, 2013, two days before the suspension expired, HAAC announced that it had refused to renew the station’s authorization to operate, according to news reports. The decision, which was published in the state-run daily Togo Press, cited the failure of Flavien Johnson, the station’s managing director, to attend a meeting convened by HAAC to discuss the renewal of the station’s expired license, as well as other perceived offenses the station had committed in the past, according to news reports.

Togo’s telecommunications regulator, ART&P, on August 26, 2013, withdrew the 92.7 FM frequency allocated to Radio Légende in 2000. The next day, a bailiff with a warrant to seal off the station, accompanied by ART&P personnel and police, ordered the closure of the station, according to news reports.

Local journalists told CPJ the government had planned to permanently silence the critical radio station. Press groups condemned the closure of Radio Légende as a sign foretelling the closure of more media outlets, according to news reports.

Radio Légende would have to reapply for a new frequency from ART&P through HAAC the next time the government announces open bids for new frequencies, Tozoun told CPJ.