August 20, 2019

RSF fears more censorship after state TV boss fired in Guinea-Bissau

The director-general of Guinea-Bissau’s state-owned national TV broadcaster, TGB, has been suspended in a move that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) fears is probably designed to reinforce censorship just before a presidential election planned in November.

Daniel Miguel de Barros’ suspension was announced in a statement by the social communication ministry yesterday. Pending cabinet approval for the decision, Zain Pereira de Jesus, a relative of former Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira, has been provisionally named as his successor. All members of TGB’s board of governors have also been suspended until further notice.


“This dismissal seems designed to step up censorship of the state-owned media at a time when TGB’s journalists have been criticizing censorship,” said Assane Diagne, the head of RSF’s West Africa office.


“As a result, pluralistic news coverage will probably suffer even more. In the run-up to the 24 November presidential elections, public television in Guinea-Bissau should instead be opening up to all to political currents and should be reflecting the full diversity of opinions.”


The social communication ministry said the director-general was replaced in order to impart a “new dynamic” to the public broadcaster and to end an internal climate that was prejudicial to its work. “A climate of a lack of confidence had taken hold” within its management, the statement said.


TGB’s employees have been complaining about political interference in the broadcaster’s news coverage for months. The state-owned media often censor news stories that embarrass the authorities, while editors and managers are often replaced.


Guinea-Bissau is ranked 89th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.