Niger’s junta blocks signals of French news broadcasters RFI and France 24
A week after ousting their elected president, Niger’s military have blocked local retransmission of the signals of French international news broadcasters Radio France Internationale (RFI) and France 24, violating its public’s right to news and information from varied sources at a time of threats to security in the Sahel, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Niger’s 25 million inhabitants suddenly ceased to be able to watch France 24 on the usual channel or listen to RFI’s broadcasts on the usual local frequencies on 3 August. The two broadcasters are part of France’s publicly-owned international broadcasting group, France Médias Monde (FMM).
Niger’s military junta has deliberately violated the right to pluralistic news coverage for the many Nigerien citizens who have, until now, listened to RFI’s broadcasts, especially those in local languages, and watched France 24 throughout the country. It has also deprived the many local media outlets of reliable and independent sources of information, thereby create a huge media void. In an already fraught security environment in the Sahel, cutting off the signals of news media that just do their job is an unacceptable attack on press freedom. We condemn the junta’s attitude, which bodes ill for the media.
The junta has meanwhile also suspended all of Niger’s state institutions including the High Council for Communication (CSC), the media regulator, which, under the law, has the sole right to issue formal warnings to media outlets and suspend them.
Ever since a junta led by Gen. Abdourahamane Tiani took over in Niger, RSF has seen disturbing signs for the media, including verbal and physical attacks on local and international reporters and calls by junta supporters for western media to be suspended until further notice.
Gen. Tiani has now followed the lead taken by leaders of the military juntas in control in neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso. Mali’s Col. Assimi Goïta terminated local retransmission of RSF and France 24 in 2022, while Burkina Faso’s Capt. Ibrahim Traoré followed suit earlier this year.
A series of military coups in the Sahel has undermined press freedom in a region that was already problematic for journalists, and the threats now seem to be increasing. A report published by RSF in April describes what life is like for journalists working in this region.