Senegal: CPJ urges DR Congo to lift suspension order on two TV stations

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the decision by the government of DR Congo to close two privately owned news channels, and urged officials to allow the channels to resume broadcasting immediately.

In a statement made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, on Saturday, CPJ said Nyota TV and Radio TV Mapendo had been ordered off air since 28 January 2016 for allegedly failing to pay taxes and licensing fees.

Ordering the suspension of the two channels, Lambert Mende, Minister of Information and Communication, said that Nyota TV, and Radio TV Mapendo, both part of a news group based in Lubumbashi, Haut-Katanga province, had been ordered off air effective January 28.

Though the transmissions were cut, TV Nyota website has continued to operate.

According to CPJ, the director general of both stations, Olivier Tuta, said the outstanding payments of US$$40,000 was made on 25 and 26 January.

"The Congolese authorities should allow Nyota TV and Radio TV Mapendo to resume broadcasting immediately," said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. "Broadcasting is a public service and governments cannot use the pretext of non-payment of licensing fees to hastily shutter those stations whose views they may not like."

CPJ said both stations are owned by Moïse Katumbi, a businessman and politician who left the ruling party in September 2015 and later joined an opposition party.

“Katumbi, who was formerly the governor of Haut-Katanga province, has been rumoured in reports as a potential opposition candidate ahead of the presidential election due to take place later this year,” the statement noted.

The press freedom watchdog disclosed that it was not clear when the stations would be allowed to reopen and it had attempted to reach the Minister of Information and Communication for comment but the calls went unanswered.

CPJ said over the past 12 months, it has documented several attacks on the press in DR Congo, from blocking Internet and cell phone access and banning the screening of a critical documentary, to arbitrary arrests and physical attacks on journalists.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 6Feb2016

06 february 2016 14:37:43

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