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Radio programme suspended

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is a 22 January 1999 RSF letter to the President
of Bénin's Audiovisual and Communications Authority concerning the recent
suspension of a radio programme:

Mr. René Mêgniho Dossa
Président de la Haute autorité de l'audiovisuel
et de la communication
Cotonou, Benin

Paris, 22 January 1999
Mr. President,

We wish to thank you for having responded so quickly to our information
request concerning the one-month suspension of the programme "Grogne
matinale" (morning grunt), broadcast on the radio station Golfe FM. We have
studied and analysed with great attention the audio tapes which you sent us.
Neither the comments made by the director of Golfe FM, nor those of the
hosts or listeners of the programme "Grogne matinale" of 28 December 1998,
3, 7 and 8 January 1999 seem to justify such a penalty.

In its 99-003/HAAC [Audiovisual and Communications Authority] decision, the
institution which you lead justifies the suspension of this programme by
invoking an "incitement to hate, violence and regionalism" and "the
programming of radio programmes which are counter to public order and the
country's security." Admittedly, in the offending programme, some listeners
condemned, with some harshness, the decision by the HAAC not to grant Golfe
FM an extension of its service to the country's north, notably to the city
of Parakou, but their remarks do not contain any explicit calls to violence.

Our organisation reiterates its condemnation of slanderous remarks and
breaches of the journalism profession's code of ethics. But in this matter,
we take the liberty of reminding you that other legal routes exist to punish
comments which you consider slanderous.

Thus, our organisation condemns the one-month suspension of the programme
"Grogne matinale", and urges you to reexamine the content which drove you to
make such a decision.

In hopes of a positive response, please accept my best wishes, Mr.

Robert Ménard

C.C. : Embassy of France - Ministry of Communication - AP - Africa N°1 -
RFI - AFP - Reuters - UN

Appeals To

Monsieur René Mêgniho Dossa
Président de la Haute autorité de l'audiovisuel et de la communication
Cotonou, Bénin

Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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