Benin

Benin

Media closely watched

With more than 70 radio stations, 60 or so newspapers and magazines and around 15 TV channels, Benin’s media landscape is one of the most pluralist in the region and its journalists enjoy a significant degree of freedom of expression. However, the state-owned media have provided little coverage of opposition activities since Patrice Talon became president in 2016, and the media have been subjected to close surveillance. Pro-government reporting “guidelines” are often sent to the media after cabinet meetings, with the political context clearly weighing heavily on what they report. In 2018, the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC) suspended a well-known opposition newspaper indefinitely, while Sikka TV, which is owned by President Talon’s leading political opponent, Sébastien Ajavon, is still deprived of its broadcast signal despite a court ruling in May 2017 that it should be allowed to reopen. Several journalists and bloggers have been prosecuted since the adoption in April 2016 of a digital law with provisions that restrict press freedom and criminalise press offences. An investigative journalist was sentenced to imprisonment under this law in March 2020 for tweeting comments made by a state prosecutor, and ended up spending six months in jail. Professionalising the media, especially online media, continues to be a major challenge and the authorities seem more interested in creating obstacles than in assisting the process. State aid for the media is distributed in a very irregular manner and news websites have been in limbo since the HAAC decided they need prior authorisation to operate, a requirement that violates international free speech standards and has the hallmarks of an attempt to silence critical media. A “morality investigation” was one of the HAAC’s very vaguely-defined conditions for issuing an authorisation.


114
in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index

Ranking

-1

113 in 2020

Global score

+3.07

35.11 in 2020

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2021
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2021
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