The government in Cameroon has ordered a dozen unlicenced private radio and television stations in the west and northwest of the country to shut down. “Officials from the communications ministry and the telecoms regulatory agency told us we had no official authorisation to work,” an employee at one of the stations said. The decision will take effect from midnight tonight.
Since the liberalisation of Cameroon’s telecommunications sector in April 2000, around 60 private radio stations have sprung up, but the communications ministry has not issued them with licences. In Bamenda, the main town in the northwestern region, five radio and two TV stations are affected. Afrique Nouvelle, which broadcasts in French, remains the only private station broadcasting in the region, which is predominantly English-speaking.
The newspaper The Herald claims the closures are because the government feared that private radio and TV would feature opposition campaigns during the country’s 2004 presidential elections.