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Afrique Media TV Defies Gov’t Seal 

By Yerima Kini Nsom

The pan-African Television station known as Afrique Media, has continued to broadcast despite a one month ban from the National Communication Council, NCC, last June 4. On Thursday August 6, the Divisional Officer for Yaounde II ordered the sealing of the television premises situated at the Nkonyada hill near the Yaounde Conference Centre.

A contingent of armed policemen led by Police Superintendent Evelyn Ngoe Besumba, put the seal on the media house in the presence of one of its officials.

But, the television station has continued to broadcast in total defiance of the seal. While reacting to what he said was Afrique Media’s unrepentant attitude, the Vice Chair of the NCC, Peter Essoka, said it was up to Government to see what to do with people who were disregarding state authority.

The feeble attempt to implement the NCC’s decision no. 00015/CNC, came two months after it was published. The sanction was of the resolution of the NCC 10th Ordinary Session that took place in Yaounde last April 30.

Besides suspending Afrique Media for one month for violating journalism ethics, the NCC equally ordered two journalists from the organ to stop practising journalism for six months. Juliana Magne Tadda and Bachir Ladan , bagged the suspension for violating professional ethics and fanning hatred.

Some newspapers, Le Renard, Cameroon Herald, Climat Social and the Bamenda-based Vanguard and their Publishers, were suspended for six months each on account of the same ethical misdemeanours. By virtue of the June decision, the NCC also slammed sanctions on the Yaounde-based Royal FM Radio and the LTM Television in Douala.

When the sanctions were slammed, the Director of Information at Afrique Media, Albert Patrick Eya’a, told the press that they would continue to broadcast because they were not served with the decision meting out the suspension. But, NCC officials hold that even when they were served they kept on broadcasting. Afrique Media officials have continued to scorn the NCC decision even after the premises was sealed.

The NCC sanctions have provoked an avalanche of varied opinions. Some observers hold that the Council is not supposed to shut down an entire media outfit for offences committed by only two journalists.

Many journalists have joined the debate by virtually insulting Peter Essoka and other members of the Council. One newspaper, Ouest-Littoral, even qualified the NCC members in derogatory terms as group of irresponsible people. While brandishing the Presidential decree that empowers the Council to sanction professional malpractices, NCC members averred that journalism is a profession whose ethics must be respected. The council charged Afrique Media with broadcasting programmes that promote hatred and xenophobia.

But supporters of the television that also broadcasts from Malabo in Equatorial Guinea claim that the NCC sanctions were motivated by some Western powers that are not comfortable with Afrique Media’s pan-Africanist editorial line.

They went haywire on the social media, accusing France of being behind the woes of the television station. The latest claim of the Afrique Media officials led by the Director General, Justin Tagou, is that the organ is international outfit broadcasting in many countries in Africa.

The NCC, they claim, has no competence of jurisdiction to sanction such an international television house. They have threatened to drag the NCC to court over the matter.

Afrique Media may be motivated by the fact that when the NCC slammed sanctions on Vision4 Television and Anecdote newspaper recently, its officials went to court and obtained a stay of execution of the decision. Till date, the decision has not been executed.

There are allegations that there are some powerful barons of the regime that make some news organs to defy the NCC sanctions with impunity.

The levity with which the administrative officials charged with the implementation of the Council’s decisions treat the sanctions, gives the impression that the Government does not intend to fully arm the outfit with enough powers to play the its watchdog role in a country where the violation of ethics has become a norm to certain journalists and media houses.

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