Africa
Benin
-
Index 2022
121/180
Score : 48.39
Political indicator
117
47.73
Economic indicator
158
28.19
Legislative indicator
118
57.46
Social indicator
132
55.50
Security indicator
119
53.10
Index 2021
114/180
Score : 61.82
N/A
Indicators not available because the calculation method was changed in 2022

In recent years, journalists’ freedom of expression has severely weakened in Benin. The media landscape is diversified, but is marked by the absence of viable major news organizations.

Media landscape

Thanks to the liberalization of the broadcasting sector in 1997, the country has seen a boom in radio stations. At least 70 are operating in the country, where they are the most popular media. Some 15 television networks operate alongside state-owned broadcasters, grouped under the wing of the Radio and Television Agency of Benin (ORTB). The country has about 100 newspapers, including the government daily La Nation, founded in 1969, as well as privately owned papers, including Le Matin, Le Matinal, Fraternité and La Nouvelle Tribune. News sites and a wire service, the Agence Bénin Presse, fill in the media landscape.

Political context

In a country known since the 1990s for a strong tradition of freedom of expression, press freedom has suffered major setbacks over the past several years. The government has strengthened its hold on the media sector and exercises a decisive influence on the appointment of the principal directors of government media and of the High Authority for Broadcasting and Communication (HAAC), a regulatory agency. The ORTB, especially its television networks, are required to relay the government’s message, while media who are close to the opposition face heavy pressure.

Legal framework

Press freedom is guaranteed by the Benin Constitution, which was revised in 2019, and is protected by the organic law on the HAAC. The Information and Communication Code of 2015 safeguards journalistic methods, and guarantees freedom of access to public information sources. But the legal framework is regularly bypassed in order to attack journalists. Since 2018, the digital law is also used against news professionals who work online.

Economic context

The media landscape is noteworthy for the absence of major press companies. Most media are not economically viable and face a tight advertising market. The government regularly exercises its power over the awarding of advertising contracts by cutting off critical news organisations. An industry-wide labour agreement took effect in 2017, but it is not enforced, and journalists live in precarious economic circumstances, which exposes them to corruption and saps their independence.

Safety

The deterioration of conditions in the north of the country, where a series of armed attacks have taken place recently, has led to repeated attacks on journalists. Many reporters have been arrested, and a foreign journalist was expelled.