Continuing its persecution of Walfadjri media group, Senegalese government rescinds its broadcasting licence

Update on 12 Feb: Walfadjri’s licence was reinstated on the evening of 11 February, the communication ministry confirmed in a statement. After several protests and adialogue between the privately-owned media group and the authorities, Walf TV has been able to resume broadcasting.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the Senegalese government’s repeated persecution of the privately-owned media group Walfadjri, and especially the communication minister’s latest decision to definitively rescind the licence of the group’s TV channel, Walf TV, shortly after its signal was disconnected. The move is seen as a grim warning to the Senegalese media in general.

Communication minister Moussa Bocar Thiam stripped Walf TV and Walfadjri’s radio station, Walf FM, of their licences for good on 4 February, shortly after the TV channel discovered that its signal had been cut. The decision, which the minister blamed on “subversive, hateful and dangerous content endangering state security,” has shocked Senegal’s journalists. More than 200 of them have signed a petition for Walf TV’s licence to be restored.

Thiam already cut Walf TV’s signal for a month last June, which was unprecedented in the history of Senegalese broadcasting. RSF condemned the suspension at the time as an abuse of authority because, under Senegal’s Press Code, the communication minister does not have the power to cut a broadcaster’s signal or withdraw its licence.

A member of the board of the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council (CNRA), the authority that has the power to order suspensions, told RSF: “Neither in June 2023 nor in February 2024 did the CNRA board meet to impose a sanction on Walf TV.”

Not content with improperly suspending Walf TV for a month last June, the Senegalese communication minister, in yet another arbitrary move against the Walfadjri group, has now gone so far as to withdraw its programme broadcasting licence, despite lacking the power to do this. RSF calls on the authorities to end this relentless persecution and to allow Walfadjri to resume broadcasting in the name of the right to information, the right to diverse and freely reported information. RSF reiterates its support for Walfadjri as well as for all Senegalese journalists.

Sadibou Marong
Director of RSF’s Sub-Saharan Africa bureau

Walf TV has been the victim of repeated CNRA suspensions, including a one-week one in February 2023 on the pretext that it provided “irresponsible coverage” of protests over a case involving opposition politician Ousmane Sonko, and a 72-hour one in March 2021 on the grounds that it “repeatedly” broadcast video showing the unrest triggered by Sonko’s arrest at the time.

104/ 180
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