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A demonstrator carries Benin's flag outside the National Assembly in Porto Novo in April 2017. Benin's media regulator threatened to shut down online publications that were distributing content without a license, according to news reports. (Yanick Folly/AFP)

Benin media regulator threatens to prosecute online outlets over registration

January 24, 2018 2:58 PM ET

Benin's media regulator, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), on December 21, 2017, threatened to shut down online publications that did not have authorization to distribute content, according to an HAAC press statement and the news website Beninwebtv.

Under article 252 of Benin's Information and Communication Code, an online media outlet must obtain authorization from state broadcasting authorities before publishing free audiovisual or print news services.

Benin's parliament passed the regulation on January 22, 2015; the regulation does not state the penalties for non-compliance.

HAAC has not issued authorization to any online media outlet in Benin, Ulvaeus Balogoun, the general secretary of Benin online publishers' network, REPROMED-Benin, and editor of the online outlet Leleaderinfobenin, and Brieux Nouréni, a reporter with the privately owned Beninmedias, told CPJ.

Multiple outlets have filed authorization requests with the HAAC in the past several months, but the agency has not yet sent feedback, according to Balogoun and the online broadcaster Beninwebtv.

HAAC president, Adam Boni Tessi told CPJ on January 12, 2018, that he was not immediately available to comment on how news outlets should register to publish online content.

This information is not available on the HAAC website.

Nouréni told CPJ that the HAAC issued its statement to silence online media outlets.

"Obviously there is something in flux but we understand that in fact the HAAC targeted certain webTV [outlets] that broadcast online news," said Balogoun.

On September 21, 2017, La Nouvelle Tribune newspaper reported that the HAAC intended to regulate the creation of online new sites. "The creation of so-called news websites ... will be regulated if we do not want to leave our country to media anarchy," Tessi said according to the report.

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