Court fines Benin media regulator for wrongfully closing broadcaster

A court in Benin on May 22, 2017, ordered the reopening of Sikka TV, which the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC by its French acronym), the state’s broadcast regulator, had ordered closed in November 2016, according to media reports. The court also ordered HAAC to pay 50 million West African francs (U.S.$86,000) in damages to Ideal Productions, the media company that produces Sikka TV programmes, for the wrongful closure of the station, the reports said.

HAAC, in a decision delivered on November 28, 2016, ordered Sikka TV, which aired on satellite television operators Eutelsat and Canal +, saying it did not have proper authorization to broadcast, according to media reports. Eutelsat and Canal + removed Sikka TV from subscribers’ plans following a request from HAAC, according to media reports. The station denounced the closure as politically motivated, targeting Sikka TV owner, Sebastien Ajavon, for his activities as an opposition politician, media reports said.

HAAC, in its November 2016 decision, also ordered five other television stations and one radio station closed for violating different texts of HAAC’s regulations, according to media reports. The regulator on January 26, 2017, allowed three of the broadcasters–E-Tele, Eden TV, and radio station Soleil FM–to re-open. The stations had been closed for not informing HAAC about a change of address, media reports said. The other stations penalized–Beninoise TV, Chretienne TV, and UnAfrica TV–have also resumed broadcasting, according to media reports.