Public broAdcAsting in AfricA series

Cameroon
A survey by the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) Open Society Media Program (OSMP)

Open Society Foundations 2012 This publication is available as a pdf on the Open Society Foundations website or the AfriMAP website under a Creative Commons licence that allows copying and distributing the publication, only in its entirety, as long as it is attributed to the Open Society Foundations and used for noncommercial educational or public policy purposes. Photographs may not be used separately from the publication. Written by: Dr Enoh Tanjong (researcher), Jeanette Minnie and Hendrik Bussiek (editors) Published by: Open Society Initiative for West Africa ISBN: 978-1-920489-38-0 For more information contact: AfriMAP PO Box 678 Wits, 2050 Johannesburg South Africa info@afrimap.org www.afrimap.org Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) BP 008, Dakar-Fann, Dakar, Senegal www.osiwa.org Design and lay-out by COMPRESS.dsl | www.compressdsl.com

Contents
Acronyms Foreword Introduction v vii ix

1

Country Facts
1 2 3 4 5 6 Historical background Government and political structures Basic socio-economic data Main challenges Media and communication landscape Brief history of broadcasting

1
1 2 4 5 7 10

2

Media Legislation and Regulation
1 2 3 4 International, continental and regional standards The Constitution of Cameroon General media laws and regulations Conclusions and recommendations

12
12 17 18 24

3

The Broadcasting Landscape
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) Commercial broadcasters Ratings for state and commercial broadcasting Community and other forms of broadcasting Technical standard and accessibility of services Concentration of media ownership Conclusions and recommendations

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27 27 28 29 31 32 33

4

Digitalisation and its Impact
1 2 Preparedness for digital switch-over Conclusions and recommendations

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36 37

5

Broadcasting Legislation and Regulation
1 2 3 The National Communications Council (NCC) Licensing of broadcasters and enforcement of licence conditions Conclusions and recommendations

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39 41 44

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6

Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) – Overview
1 2 3 4 Legislation Profile of CRTV Organisational structures and staff Conclusions and recommendations

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47 49 50 52

7

Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) – Funding
1 2 3 Main sources of funding Spending Conclusions and recommendations

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55 56 56

8

Programming
1 2 3 4 Programme policies and guidelines Programme schedules News and current affairs Conclusions and recommendations

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59 60 69 72

9 10

Broadcasting Reform Efforts Overall Conclusions and Recommendations

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v

Acronyms
ACHPR ATV AU BBC CAMNEWS CBS CDU CMC CNU CPDM CRTV CTV CUJ ELECAM FAWODA GNE ICCPR ISP ITU JDP JED MACACOS MP NCC NUDP OAU RFI SCNC SDF SDO STV UNESCO VOA VoIP African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Ariane Television African Union British Broadcasting Corporation Cameroon News Agency Christian Broadcasting Service-Buea Cameroon Democratic Union Cameroon Media Council Cameroon National Union Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement Cameroon Radio Television Cameroon Television Cameroon Union of Journalists Elections Cameroon  Fako Women’s Association Groupe Nouvelle Expression International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights internet service provider International Telecommunications Union Justice and Development Party Journalistes en Danger Catholic Media Centre Progressive Movement National Communications Council National Union for Democracy and Progress Organisation of African Unity Radio France International Southern Cameroon’s National Council Social Democratic Front senior divisional officer Spectrum Television UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Voice of America voice over internet protocol

Foreword

The report is the result of research that started in 2008 with the aim of collecting, collating and writing up information about regulation, ownership, access, performance as well as prospects for public broadcasting reform in Africa. The Cameroon report is part of a twelve-country survey of African broadcast media. The main reason for conducting the research is to contribute to Africa’s democratic consolidation. Many African countries have made significant gains in building democratic systems of governance that are based on popular control of decision-making and in which citizens are treated as equals. Availability and access to information by a greater number of citizens is a critical part of a functioning democracy and a country’s development. The role of a public broadcaster as a vehicle through which objective information and diverse perspectives are transmitted into the public domain cannot be overstated. A number of countries are currently undertaking public broadcasting reforms that aim to improve service delivery and accountability to citizens. Such reforms draw from evolving African and global standards regarding media and broadcast media in particular. The survey instrument that was developed in consultation with media experts from Africa and other parts of the world is largely based on agreements, conventions, charters and declarations regarding media that have been developed at regional and continental levels in Africa. The survey of broadcast media in Africa was initiated by two projects of the Open Society Institute (OSI), the Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP) and the Open Society Institute Media Program, working with the African members of the Soros foundation network – in West Africa, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA). The research was carried out by Dr Enoh Tanjong, Associate Professor at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Buea/Cameroon and Vice Dean (Programmes and Academic Affairs) Faculty of Social and Management Sciences. The report was co-edited by Jeanette Minnie, an international freedom of expression and media consultant, and Hendrik

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Bussiek, a media consultant with extensive broadcasting experience in Africa and globally, who is the editor-in-chief of the project. It is our hope that the research will clear some of the misconceptions about public broadcasters. In its simplest definition a ‘public broadcasting service’ is a broadcaster that serves and is accountable to the public as a whole. Yet in most instances what is referred to as a public broadcaster is in fact a state broadcaster. This research aims to help the process of aiding the transformation of Africa’s public broadcasters into media worthy of the name. Ozias Tungwarara Director, AfriMAP

Introduction

The survey on public broadcasting in Africa starts from the premise that development and democracy cannot thrive without open and free public space where all issues concerning people’s lives can be aired and debated and which gives them room and opportunity to participate in decision-making. Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen describes democracy as ‘governance by dialogue’ and broadcasters are ideally placed to facilitate this dialogue by providing the space for it – if their services are accessible, independent, credible and open to the full spectrum of diverse views. Following from this premise, the key objective of the survey is to assess whether and to what extent the various forms of broadcasting on our continent can and do create such a free public space, with special attention given to those services which call themselves ‘public’. A total of twelve country reports look closely at the current status of broadcasting in Benin, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. While this survey may be unprecedented in its scope and depth, it does feed into ongoing discussions among broadcasters, civil society and politicians in Africa on the nature and mandate of genuine public broadcasting. Reform efforts are under way in a number of countries. And at least on paper there is already broad consensus on the need to open up the airwaves to commercial and community broadcasters and for state broadcasters to be transformed into truly public broadcasting services. The Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa adopted by the African Union’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in 2002, for example, says ‘a State monopoly over broadcasting is not compatible with the right to freedom of expression’ and demands that ‘state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters accountable to the public’. This document and other regional policy declarations serve as major benchmarks for this survey.

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In particular, these African documents inform the vision and mandate of public broadcasting as understood in this study1. This vision can be summarised as follows: • to serve the overall public interest and be accountable to all strata of society as represented by an independent board; • to ensure full respect for freedom of expression, promote the free flow of information and ideas, assist people to make informed decisions and facilitate and strengthen democracy. The public broadcasters’ mandate is: • to provide access to a wide range of information and ideas from the various sectors of society; • to report on news and current affairs in a way which is not influenced by political, commercial or other special interests and therefore comprehensive, fair and balanced (editorial independence); • to contribute to economic, social and cultural development in Africa by providing a credible forum for democratic debate on how to meet common challenges; • to hold those in power in every sector of society accountable; • to empower and inspire citizens, especially the poor and marginalised, in their quest to improve the quality of their lives; • to provide credible and varied programming for all interests, those of the general public as well as minority audiences, irrespective of religious beliefs, political persuasion, culture, race and gender; • to reflect, as comprehensively as possible, the range of opinions on matters of public interest and of social, political, philosophical, religious, scientific and artistic trends; • to promote the principles of free speech and expression as well as of free access to communication by enabling all citizens, regardless of their social status, to communicate freely on the airwaves; • to promote and develop local content, for example through adherence to minimum quotas; • to provide universal access to their services, with their signal seeking to reach all corners of the country.
1 Apart from the African Commission’s Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, these are the African Charter on Broadcasting 2001 as well as the 1995 policy document ‘On The Move’ and 2007 draft policy paper ‘Now is the Time’ by the Southern African Broadcasting Association, in which state/public broadcasters in southern Africa commit themselves to the aim of public broadcasting.

INTRODUCTION

xi

Other broadcasting services can – in one way or the other – also fulfill aspects of this mandate, and the survey, therefore, looks at them as well in order to assess their contribution to the creation of a public space. The facts, figures and informed assessments presented in the survey will, it is hoped, provide a nuanced picture of where broadcasting in Africa at present stands between ‘His Master’s Voice’ of old and the envisaged public broadcasting service of the future. This information should provide a sound basis for advocacy work, both among decision-makers and civil society as a whole. The report starts out with a comprehensive audit of existing media laws and other legislation with an impact on freedom of expression and a critical in-depth assessment of the legal and regulatory framework in which broadcasting presently operates. This is followed by a detailed study of the state broadcaster – its organisation, its finances, its policies, the content it offers. In August 2011 a draft report was publicly presented at a round table meeting in Cameroon’s capital Yaoundé, attended by participants from broadcasting stations, media associations, other civil society organisations and government. Participants discussed the findings, corrected assumptions and errors, debated and endorsed conclusions and recommendations and made a number of additions which were incorporated into the final version. The researcher and editors would like to express their gratitude to all those who contributed by sharing their information and insights and providing valuable feedback and constructive criticism. Hendrik Bussiek

1
Country Facts

1

Historical background

Following the First World War, the League of Nations (later United Nations) placed the eastern part of the former German colony (Kamerun) under French mandate and the west under British mandate. The territory under French administration gained independence on 1 January 1960. The country was re-unified as a federal state after a plebiscite in October 1961. It officially became the United Republic of Cameroon through a referendum in 1972 and was renamed the Republic of Cameroon in 1984. Cameroon’s first president, Ahmadou Ahidjo, centralised power by gradually merging all existing political parties under the banner of the Cameroon National Union (CNU) and establishing a one-party state in 1966. In 1982, after more than two decades in office, Ahidjo handed over the reins to his then prime minister and constitutional successor, Paul Biya, who remains president to this day. In 1990, a series of civil society demonstrations pressing for a democratic government culminated in the signing of the Liberty Laws in December of that year and the re-introduction of multi-party politics. The first multi-party elections, held in 1992, were allegedly characterised by widespread manipulation and rigging. They were won by Biya and his Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement (CPDM), created in 1985 from the CNU. In 1996, the new multi-party dispensation prompted the amendment of the country’s 1972 constitution, and the basic law was amended again in 2008.

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2

Government and political structures

According to article 2 of the 1996 constitution (quoted from the official English version), ‘National sovereignty shall be vested in the people of Cameroon who shall exercise same either through the President of the Republic and Members of Parliament or by way of referendum.’ The president was to be elected by a majority of votes cast through direct universal suffrage for a term of seven years, renewable once. However, this limit to the number of presidential terms was removed by the National Assembly in 2008 with the amendment of article 6(2). The original ‘He shall be eligible for re-election once’ now reads ‘He shall be eligible for re-election’. This allows President Biya to run for office again in the next presidential elections due in October 2011. The president’s powers are listed in articles 8 to 10 of the 1996 constitution. Amongst other things, the president appoints a prime minister as head of government and other members of government, as well as officials in ‘civil and military posts of the State’, and is the head of the armed forces. The president also appoints the governors of the ten regions of Cameroon, which were created by the 1996 constitution. The governors are responsible for ‘jurisdiction in areas necessary for their economic, social, health, educational, cultural and sports development’ (article 56). Article 57 provides for regional councils but these are not functional yet. The authority of the president is further enhanced by article 28 of the 1996 constitution, which states that ‘Parliament may empower the President of the Republic to legislate by way of ordinance for a limited period and for given purposes.’ Parliament has to ratify such ordinances but ‘they shall remain in force as long as Parliament has not refused to ratify them’. According to article 14, legislative powers rest with the National Assembly and the Senate as well as regional councils. Local authorities are represented by the Senate which is still not operational. The members of the National Assembly are elected both through direct universal ballot and the system of proportional representation. Ninety of its members are elected by majority vote in single-member constituencies, and another 90 through a closedlist proportional representation system. Members of the National Assembly serve fiveyear terms and there is no limit to the number of times they may stand for re-election. Article 3 of the 1996 constitution provides the legal foundation for a multi-party political system:

COUNTRY FACTS

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Political parties and groups shall help the electorate in the making of voting decisions. They shall be bound to respect the principles of democracy, national sovereignty and unity. They shall be formed and shall exercise their activities in accordance with the law.

Despite constant calls from the main opposition party, the Social Democratic Front (SDF), and the international community, especially the Commonwealth, for the setting up of an independent electoral commission, such a body was established by law only in late 2006 and actually constituted another two years later. The Elections [Commission of] Cameroon (ELECAM) is in charge of the organisation, management and supervision of all election and referendum processes. Its independence is in question, however, given that all its members are appointed by the president. In fact, over 80 per cent of the first ELECAM commissioners appointed on 30 December 2008 are senior (PolitBureau and Central Committee) members of the ruling party, the CPDM. The present members of the National Assembly, who were elected on 22 July 2007 in a ballot organised directly by government structures, are mostly from the CPDM under the chairmanship of Biya. The party holds 153 out of 180 seats. Other parties represented in Parliament are the Social Democratic Front (SDF) with 16 seats, the National Union for Democracy and Progress (NUDP) with six seats, the Cameroon Democratic Union (CDU) with four seats, and the Progressive Movement (MP) with one seat. Part V of the constitution states that judicial powers are exercised by the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal and Tribunals. The judiciary is to be independent from the executive and legislative arms of government and ‘The President of the Republic shall guarantee the independence of judicial power’ – which seems to be a contradiction in terms. Article 37 empowers the President to appoint the members of the judiciary in collaboration with the Higher Judicial Council. A Constitutional Council, according to article 46, is tasked to rule on the constitutionality of laws. Three members each are to be appointed by the President of the Republic, the National Assembly and the Senate, with two additional members chosen by the Higher Judicial Council. Former presidents of the republic are ex-officio members of the Constitutional Council for life. In practice, this means that the council is dominated by members or sympathisers of the ruling party. Although there are three constitutionally recognised pillars of the state (executive, legislature and judiciary), this separation of powers is in effect undermined by the extensive and concurrent powers of the president to appoint the electoral commission, to issue ‘ordinances’ sidelining Parliament, to appoint governors of the regions, and to appoint judges to ‘guarantee the independence of judicial power’.

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Basic socio-economic data
Basic socio-economic data
19.5 million (World Bank) 2.0% (World Bank) French and English Fulfulde, Ewondo and Douala Christianity, Islam and indigenous beliefs 67.9% (UN) 2.0 % (World Bank) US$2,219 (2008 – UN) 2.0% (World Bank) 51.7 years (UN) Yaoundé Douala

Table 1:

Population Population growth rate official languages Main local languages religions literacy gdP annual growth gdP per capita inflation rate Average life expectancy Political capital economic capital

Sources: The World Bank Cameroon Data and Statistics 2009, www.worldbank.org, UN Human Development Reports 2010, www.hdrstats.undp.org

Cameroon has a very young population: 43 per cent of its people are younger than 15, while just 3 per cent are over 65.2 There are eight ethnic groups: Cameroon Highlanders (31 per cent), Equatorial Bantu (19 per cent), Kirdi (11 per cent), Fulani (10 per cent), North-Western Bantu (9 per cent), Eastern Nigritic (7 per cent), other African (13 per cent), and non-African (less than 1 per cent).3 There are 24 major African language groups, with a common lingua franca, Pidgin English, being spoken by almost 80 per cent of the population. 4 Eighty per cent of the population is Francophone while 20 per cent is Anglophone. According to article 1(3) of the constitution, English and French are the official languages, with ‘both languages having the same status’ and with the state promoting ‘bilingualism throughout the country’. English is mainly spoken in the South West and North West regions while French dominates in the other eight regions. The constitution also enjoins the state ‘to protect and promote national languages’. The main religions are indigenous beliefs (40 per cent), Christianity (40 per cent) and Islam (20 per cent).5 Cordial relations prevail between religious denominations, which have on several occasions held joint ecumenical services.

2 3 4 5

www.nationencyclopedia.com. www.historycentral.com. Ibid. Ibid.

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The United Nations’ Human Development Index ranks Cameroon 131 out of 179 countries.6 Life expectancy stands at 51.7 years and 35.7 per cent of the population do not live longer than 40 years. Cameroon’s Human Poverty Index value (HPI-1)7 stands at 31.5 per cent and the country is ranked 92nd among 135 developing nations. Fifty-five per cent of rural households are poor – compared with 12 per cent of urban households.8 Services account for 44 per cent of the 2009 GDP, and agriculture (food and export crops, livestock, fishing and forestry) and manufacturing for 19 per cent each. Oil and mining account for a further 7 per cent.9 The official unemployment rate stands at 13 per cent. However, according to the 2005 Employment and Informal Sector Survey conducted by the Cameroon National Institute of Statistics, as many as 90 per cent of all jobs are in the informal sector of the economy, while the public and private formal sectors employ a mere 9.6 per cent.

4 Main challenges
4.1 Political
After the 2008 revision of article 6(2) of the 1996 constitution which did away with the limitation on presidential terms, the incumbent president – after 27 years in power – now has the opportunity to run for office again in 2011. This issue is at the centre of current political debate and was one of the reasons for several demonstrations which took place in February 2008. Some of the demonstrations were violent and resulted in fatalities. The credibility of Elections Cameroon  (ELECAM), which is in charge of the upcoming and future elections, is questionable because its officials are appointed by the President. Overall, the political terrain is often characterised by chaos, with approximately 200 official opposition political parties, many of them created along ethnic or regional affiliations, vying for voters. Effective decentralisation of the government is fundamental to the growth of good governance in the country. As it stands, regional governors are appointed by the President rather than being elected.

6 7 8 9

Human Development Reports 2010, www.hdrstats.undp.org. The HPI-1 looks beyond income deprivation and represents a multi-dimensional alternative to the US$ 1.25 a day poverty measure. World Bank Country Reports 2010, www.worldbank.org. Ibid.

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The disputed oil-rich Bakassi Peninsula was transferred to Cameroon by Nigeria on 14 August 2008 in accordance with the June 2006 Green Tree Accord, supervised by the United Nations, Britain, USA, France and Germany. However, effective control of the Bakassi Peninsula by the Cameroon government is problematic given the emergence of a resistance group which calls itself the Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF). The presence of this well-armed group has increased the incidence of piracy, hostagetaking and bank robberies in the Gulf of Guinea.

4.2 economic
Poverty alleviation is a major challenge to the government and civil society. Corruption is rampant. The anti-corruption organisation Transparency International in its 2010 Corruption Perception Index ranked Cameroon 146th out of 178 countries.10 Efforts to fight corruption have often been futile. The arrests of former top government officials such as Polycarp Abah Abah (former minister of finance) and Ondo Ndong (former general manager of FEICOM, the institution that funds local councils), and others accused of mismanaging or embezzling state funds, have not met public expectations regarding the government’s commitment to clean administration. Government has been seeking to reduce unemployment through the construction of the Kribi and Limbe deep-sea ports, the Limbe cement factory and the massive recruitment of part-time teachers into the public service as well as the appointment of police and military officers. Government through the labour and social security ministry is finalising measures for the creation of a National Fund for State Employees and the Unemployed. This will extend social security coverage from the current level of 10 per cent to 80 per cent. The National Employment Fund was created to help job-seekers find employment.

4.3 social
Bilingualism in Cameroon is faltering since the use of French far surpasses the use of English. Most Anglophones complain of marginalisation in all sectors of public life. As a result, an activist group called the Southern Cameroon’s National Council (SCNC) emerged to pressurise the government for better socio-economic conditions and threatened to secede from Francophone Cameroon. SCNC activists hoisted the movement’s flags in some parts of the North-West region on 1 October 2008. Chief

10 www.transparency.org.

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Ayamba Ette Otun, the SCNC’s national president, travelled to the UN, Britain and Belgium in 2008 to present the organisation’s case. The new criminal procedure code introduced in January 2007 to replace the French civil law and the common law systems used in the French-speaking and Englishspeaking regions of the country respectively, poses a problem of adaptation. The Cameroon media, which remain weak, continue to face prosecution and persecution, although the number of arrests and detentions of journalists has declined since the 1990s when the law on freedom of mass communications was passed.

5

Media and communication landscape

5.1 Print media
The Cameroon Tribune is the only national newspaper in Cameroon. It is a governmentowned bilingual (French and English) daily with an estimated circulation of 20 000 copies for the print version and 800 daily hits for the online version.11 The paper is distributed countrywide and used as a publicity instrument for the government. There are over 50 regional newspapers, all of them privately owned. The most popular include Le Messager, La Nouvelle Expression, La Mutation, Le Jour and The Post. • Le Messager was first published in 1979. It is among Cameroon’s top five dailies, with an average circulation of over 15 000 copies. The paper is published in French, known for its anti-government stance and considered a leading advocate for democracy in Cameroon. • La Nouvelle Expression is another French language publication, first published in 1992. With a circulation of 35 000 copies, it is Cameroon’s largest daily. La Nouvelle Expression is a strong critic of government. • La Mutation, owned by the South Media Corporation SA, is a daily French language newspaper and is also critical of the Biya government. • The Post is a privately owned bi-weekly, published in English. Since its creation in 1997, it has steadily become the leading English language newspaper in Cameroon due to its consistency, regularity and critical reporting of government.

11

Circulation figures provided by Peter Evande, South West regional chief of SOPECAM (Cameroon News, Publishing and Editing Corporation).

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Newspapers are expensive for a poor country and a population that is still to develop a reading culture: the common price per copy is 400frs CFA (US$ 0.8712).13

5.2 radio
According to official figures14 there are 163 radio receivers per 1 000 of the population. Broadcasting in Cameroon takes place across the three tiers of state, private and community broadcasting. The state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) is the leading radio broadcaster in the country. It covers the entire nation with its ten regional network stations and four commercial FM stations (Buea, Douala, Yaoundé, and Bafoussam) as well as a pilot FM station in Kouseri in the Far North region. Being a government-controlled corporation, its stations act in accordance with government directives. After the liberalisation of the audiovisual sector in April 2000, the number of radio stations grew to about 80 between 2000 and 2005. They are regulated by the ministry of communication through the private broadcasting decree, ensuring among other conditions that radio programming is made up of at least 51 per cent local content.15 The leading private radio stations are Equinoxe FM (Douala), Magic FM (Yaoundé), Radio Siantou (Yaoundé), Afrique Nouvelle FM (Bamenda), Radio Hot Coffee (Bamenda), Ocean City Radio (Limbe) and Eden Radio (Limbe). No private radio station has been established at a national level. The only non-state stations with national coverage are international broadcasters (British Broadcasting Corporation – BBC, Radio France International – RFI, and Africa No. 1, a francophone radio station based in Libreville, Gabon, which serves the Central African region). Prominent community radio stations include Radio Bonakanda (Buea), owned by the Fako Women’s Association (FAWODA), Chariot FM (Buea), run by the University of Buea, Radio Veritas (Douala), owned by the Catholic Media Centre (MACACOS), and Femmes FM, owned by the NGO Mbalmayo. The number of community radio stations is growing with the assistance of UNESCO.

12 Exchange rate on 27 March 2011 according to http://coinmill.com/USD-XAF.html. 13 African Media Barometer (AMB), Cameroon Report 2008, Windhoek 2008. The AMB is a self-assessment exercise conducted regularly by representatives of media and civil society on the continent. 14 Ministry of Communication (MINCOM 2004, 2005a) National Index File: Radios et televisions detentrice d’autorisation du MINCOM. July 21, 2004 and November 10, 2005, Yaoundé, Government of Cameroon. 15 Article 26(1) of Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/ PM of 3 April 2000.

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5.3 television
According to official statistics there are 45 television sets per 1 000 of the population.16 The state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) is the leading television broadcaster in the country. State monopoly of television ended only in 2001 with the introduction of TV Max in Douala. Other private television stations have since emerged: Spectrum Television (STV), Canal 2 International, Ariane Television (ATV) and Equinoxe Television.16 Although STV, Canal 2 International and Equinoxe Television have good programmes (most of which are of foreign origin) and a lot of current affairs analysis, they cannot compete with the government-controlled CRTV when it comes to geographical coverage, equipment and infrastructure. CRTV (both radio and television) also dominates in terms of audience reach since it covers approximately 80 per cent of the country.

5.4 internet
In March 1997, Cameroon became linked to the internet. Official figures17 say that there is one personal computer user per 100 of the population, and one internet user per 100. Human Development Report 2010 figures,18 however, put the figure of internet users at 3.8 per cent. Cyber cafés are the chief mode of access for the majority of Cameroonian internet users. Consumers pay according to the amount of time spent on the internet: 500frs CFA (US$ 1.10) for up to 2 hours and 30 minutes.19 A subscriber is expected to make a non-refundable initial down payment of US$ 300 and pay monthly bills of about US$ 10 for one year and subsequently US$ 40 every month as a recurring fee to gain access to the minimum bandwidth (64kb). Cameroon, like many African countries such as Nigeria, Angola, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea, relies heavily on SAT3, a fibre optic underwater cable to which the country has been connected for years, but which is grossly underutilised. The quality of the services is erratic, and in the absence of technologies like ADSL, access is very limited and slow. This explains the presence of foreign internet service providers (ISPs) such as ICC Net, Globtournet, Global Net and CAMTEL. Local company Doula1.com believes that a nationwide network of cyber-centres linked to ISPs by VSAT, or terrestrial optical fibre, would have enormous potential.
16 17 18 19 Ministry of Communication, op.cit. Ibid. Human Development reports, op.cit. AMB, op.cit.

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Major media outlets in Cameroon, mainly print media, have websites that are accessible to the public. Broadcasting stations still lag behind. Only CRTV, Canal 2 and STV are accessible online.

5.5 Mobile phones
There are 13.8 mobile phone subscribers per 100 of the population compared to 0.6 landline telephones per 100.20 There are four telephone service operators in Cameroon – CAMTEL, MTN, Orange and Ringo. CAMTEL is government-owned and provides both fixed and mobile phone services. MTN (Mobile Telephone Network), Orange and Ringo are private companies that are limited to the provision of mobile phone services. MTN and Orange claim to have approximately 5 million customers between them (representing 80 per cent of users). The phenomenal growth in mobile phone use has increased the country’s teledensity from 0.7 per cent to 12 per cent. Telecommunication services are still expensive, however: a minute-long call on a mobile phone costs 180frs CFA (US$ 0.3921) for national calls and 300frs CFA (US$ 0.65) for international calls. Voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service providers charge a rate of 100frs CFA (US$ 0.22) for international calls. Unlike their counterparts in many other African countries, the government has not banned VoIP services, which are booming thanks to the proliferation of VSAT access providers.

6 Brief history of broadcasting
Broadcasting in Cameroon started in 1941, when the French government opened the first radio station in Douala, Radio Douala, also known as L’Enfant de la Guerre. This later became the department of radio broadcasting controlled by the then ministry of information and culture after independence. Other government radio stations were started in the following years: Radio Yaoundé (1955), Radio Garoua (1958), Radio Buea (1961), Radio Bertoua (1978), Radio Bafoussam (1980), Radio Bamenda (1981), Radio Ngaoundere, Radio Ebolowa, and Radio Maroua (1986). President Ahmadou Ahidjo inaugurated the first seven radio stations, while President Biya launched the last three. During the early period of broadcasting in Cameroon, radio stations could not be considered mass media because the transmitters had low power and the two languages
20 Ministry of Communication, op.cit. 21 Exchange rate according to http://coinmill.com/USD-XAF.html on 27 March 2011.

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that dominated the broadcasts (English and French) were foreign to the majority of the people. Besides, poverty made it impossible for people to own receivers.22 Television broadcasting was introduced in 1985 (25 years after independence) with the establishment of government-owned Cameroon Television (CTV). The first TV images broadcast in the country were aired in March that year during the Cameroon National Union Congress in Bamenda. Pope John Paul II’s first visit to Cameroon was also broadcast during this experimental phase. The Department of Radio Broadcasting and Cameroon Television initially operated as separate entities. Following a strike by radio journalists, the two broadcasting arms were merged on 17 December 1987 with the creation of Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV). The state monopoly over broadcasting ended with the publication of Prime Ministerial Decree No. 200/158 of April 3, 2000, which liberalised the audiovisual media. Presently, the country has over 80 radio stations (the majority being privately owned FM stations) and five national television stations.23 Most of the programming both on television and radio is in French. English speakers complain that programmes in English are scarce and of unsatisfactory quality.

22 H. Muluh and B. Ndoh, Evolution of the Media in Cameroon, in: F. Eribo and E. Tanjong, Journalism and Mass Communication in Africa: Cameroon, Lexington Books, New York, 2002, p. 7. 23 C. Alobwede, African Media Initiative: Cameroon. BBC World Service Trust, London, 2006, p.22.

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Media Legislation and Regulation

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International, continental and regional standards

The preamble of Cameroon’s 1996 constitution ‘affirm[s]’ the country’s
attachment to the fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Charter of the United Nations and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and all duly ratified international conventions relating thereto ...

Cameroon is a signatory to these and other international human rights treaties and agreements, and article 45 of the constitution states:
All duly approved or ratified treaties and international agreements shall following their publication override national laws, provided the other party implements the said treaty or agreement.

In effect all such ratified agreements become national law following their publication, in line with the doctrine of incorporation by reference.

1.1

united nations

The following instruments of the UN are relevant to freedom of expression: The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted in 1948) The Universal Declaration is not a treaty that is ratified by states and thus legally binding. However, scholars now regard it as either having itself become international

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customary law or as a reflection of such law.24 In either case the inclusion of freedom of expression in the declaration implies that even states that have ratified none of the relevant treaties are bound to respect freedom of expression as a human right. Article 19 of the Declaration deals with the right to freedom of expression:
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (enacted by the UN in 1976) The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a treaty that elaborates on many of the rights outlined in the Declaration. Cameroon is a party to the ICCPR. The Covenant’s article 19 declares:
1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference; 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.

The Windhoek Declaration on Promoting an Independent and Pluralistic African Press (adopted by the general assembly of UNESCO in 1991) The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) Windhoek Declaration, like other non-treaty documents, has moral authority by representing a broad consensus of the international community on the detailed interpretation of the Universal Declaration and other relevant standards as they relate to the press in Africa. Article 9 of the Windhoek Declaration states:
(We) declare that 1. Consistent with article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the establishment, maintenance and fostering of an independent, pluralistic and free press is essential to the development and maintenance of democracy in a nation, and for economic development.

24 See, for example, H. Hannum, ‘The Status and Future of the Customary International Law of Human Rights: The Status of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in National and International Law’, Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, 287; H.J. Steiner, P. Alston and R. Goodman, International Human Rights in Context: Law, Politics, Morals: Texts and Materials, Oxford: Oxford University Press (third edition), 2007.

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2. By an independent press, we mean a press independent from governmental, political or economic control or from control of materials and infrastructure essential for the production and dissemination of newspapers, magazines and periodicals. 3. By a pluralistic press, we mean the end of monopolies of any kind and the existence of the greatest possible number of newspapers, magazines and periodicals reflecting the widest possible range of opinion within the community.

1.2 African union
Cameroon is a member of the African Union (AU), whose Constitutive Act states that its objectives include the promotion of ‘democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance’ (article 3[g]). The most important human rights standard adopted by the AU or its predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), is: The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (adopted 27 June 1981)25 Article 9 on freedom of expression states:
• • Every individual shall have the right to receive information. Every individual shall have the right to express and disseminate his opinions within the law.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) is the body established under the Charter to monitor and promote compliance with its terms. Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa In 2002, the African Commission adopted this Declaration to provide a detailed interpretation for member states of the AU of the rights to freedom of expression outlined in the African Charter. It states in its article I:
Freedom of expression and information, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other form of communication, including across frontiers, is a fundamental and inalienable human right and an indispensable component of democracy.
25 Organisation of African Unity, The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, adopted 27 June 1981, Doc. CAB/ LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M. 58 (1982), entered into force 21 October 1986.

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Everyone shall have an equal opportunity to exercise the right to freedom of expression and to access information without discrimination.

The Declaration goes on to say in article II:
1. No one shall be subject to arbitrary interference with his or her freedom of expression; and 2. Any restrictions on freedom of expression shall be provided by law, serve a legitimate interest and be necessary in a democratic society.

The Declaration details how such freedom of expression should be realised. Of particular relevance to this study is the statement regarding public broadcasting (article VI):
State and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters, accountable to the public through the legislature rather than the government, in accordance with the following principles: • public broadcasters should be governed by a board which is protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature; • the editorial independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed; • public broadcasters should be adequately funded in a manner that protects them from arbitrary interference with their budgets; • public broadcasters should strive to ensure that their transmission system covers the whole territory of the country; and • the public service ambit of public broadcasters should be clearly defined and include an obligation to ensure that the public receive adequate, politically balanced information, particularly during election periods.

The document also states that freedom of expression ‘places an obligation on the authorities to take positive measures to promote diversity’ (article II), that community and private broadcasting should be encouraged (article V), and that broadcasting and telecommunications regulatory authorities should be independent and ‘adequately protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature’ (article VII). The Declaration furthermore provides for freedom of access to information and states that ‘the right to information shall be guaranteed by law’ (article IV).

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African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (2007) This Charter, adopted by African heads of state in 2007, highlights the importance of access to information in a democracy. It states:
(State parties shall) promote the establishment of the necessary conditions to foster citizen participation, transparency, access to information, freedom of the press and accountability in the management of public affairs. (Article 2[10]) State parties shall ... ensure fair and equitable access by contesting parties to state controlled media during elections. (Article 17 [3])

For the time being, though, these remain noble goals. By September 2009, 29 countries had signed the Charter but only two had ratified it (Mauritania and Ethiopia), and the treaty had thus not yet entered into force (which requires 15 ratifications).

1.3 other documents
African Charter on Broadcasting (2001) This Charter was adopted by media practitioners and international media and other human rights organisations at a UNESCO conference to celebrate ten years of the Windhoek Declaration. Although it has not been endorsed by any inter-state structures, it represents a consensus of leading African and international experts on freedom of expression and the media. The Charter specifies, amongst other things, that there should be a three-tier system of broadcasting (public, private and community), demands that ‘(a)ll state and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters’, and states that regulatory frameworks should be based on ‘respect for freedom of expression, diversity and the free flow of information and ideas’.

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2

The Constitution of Cameroon

The preamble of the 1996 constitution refers to freedom of expression – and of the press – as being among the basic freedoms guaranteed by the basic law. It states that:
the freedom of communication, of expression, of the press, of assembly, of association, and of trade unionism, as well as the right to strike shall be guaranteed under conditions fixed by the law.

Other than this there are no specific constitutional provisions in this regard. Despite this general guarantee, journalists have regularly been subjected to torture, humiliation and threats from administrative authorities and from law and order officials. In December 2006, a number of reporters were arrested and tortured while covering a strike by students of the University of Buea.26 According to Journalistes en Danger (JED), in June 2009 a military tribunal in Yaoundé sentenced two reporters of the private weekly La Nouvelle to five years in prison and a fine of 500 000frs CFA (US$1 100); the journalists were only informed of the closed-door hearing after the fact.27 In another case in 2009 the editor of the weekly Le Jeune Observateur was repeatedly threatened for his coverage of corruption; armed intruders removed workrelated documents from his home and his e-mail accounts were hacked.28 In April 2010 the publications manager of the Cameroun Express weekly, Bibi Ngota, died in the Kondegui Central Prison of Yaoundé where he was on remand for two months in a case of corruption implicating the Secretary General in the President’s Office, which he and other journalists were investigating. Ngota was in ill health but requests by his family for his transfer to a hospital were refused and he was denied any other form of medical assistance by the prison authorities.29 Cameroon ranks poorly in Freedom House’s Global Press Freedom Survey 2010, occupying 146th place out of a total 196 countries.30 The Press Freedom Index 2010 of Reporters Without Borders lists Cameroon in 129th place out of 178 countries.31

26 27 28 29

The Post, 11 Monday 2006 (www. postnewsline.com). Freedom House Global Press Freedom Survey 2010, www.freedomhouse.org. Ibid. Press Freedom in Africa 2011. Report published by the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) – the African Regional group of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), www.ifjafrique.org. 30 Ibid. 31 Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2010, http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index 2010.

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3

General media laws and regulations

3.1 general provisions
The substantive piece of legislation regulating the operation of the media in Cameroon is Law No. 90/52 of 19 December 1990, as amended by Law No. 96/04 of 4 January 1996, on freedom of mass communication. Section 1 guarantees freedom of the press. According to section 2(1) the scope of the law covers virtually all forms of communication including newspapers, book publishing, audiovisual media, and so on. Section 6 states that ‘[p]ersons shall be free to engage in the publication of press organs’. According to section 36, ‘subject to the regulations governing private radio, persons shall be free to engage in audio-visual communication’. Section 39 stipulates that ‘[o]ne or more public sector establishments or state corporations set up and organized by decree may be charged with the operation of public sector audio-visual communication’.

3.2 requirements for publishing
Section 7 lays down the basic requirements for setting up a ‘press organ’ (newspaper, periodical, magazine or pamphlet) intended to communicate opinions or ideas by a natural or corporate body. Before commencing publication the publisher has to ‘declare’ to the ‘competent Senior Divisional Officer (SDO) having jurisdiction’ the following: Title and intervals of the publication; Head office of the press organ; Full names and a certificate of non-conviction of the owner or co- owners; Articles of association for moral person; Full names, affiliation and certificate of non-convictions and the address of the publisher and where applicable that of the co-publisher or assistant publisher; • Full names and address of the printing house where the press organ will be published; • Full names of members of the permanent editorial staff, which must comprise no less than two professional journalists who are holders of professional cards bound to the press organ by virtue of a contract of employment. • • • • •

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The last mentioned requirement is particularly noteworthy. It implies not only the assumption on the part of the authorities that there is a clear definition of who exactly is – or is not – a ‘professional journalist’, it also allows the state to prescribe to publishers who they can employ, and potentially bars those not deemed to be ‘professional’ from exercising their basic right to freedom of expression. From the date of notification of the declaration, the SDO has up to 15 days to issue an acknowledgment receipt attesting that the information submitted and declared by the applicant satisfies the statutory requirements. Where the SDO expressly refuses to issue a written acknowledgment of the declaration, the applicant may seek redress from a competent court.32 Compliance with these requirements is poor and many newspapers are simply being published without any licence. This attitude, while it may be deemed to be justified by the constitutional guarantee of freedom of the press, creates an unstable working environment and opens these publications up to possible state interference at any time on the grounds of a mere technicality. According to sections 25 to 29, no publishing house is permitted to publish more than three press titles. However, the same restrictions do not apply to those in the public sector that publish as part of their public service mission. According to sections 15 to 16, each publisher must file four official copies at the branch of the National Archives in the area of the head office of the newspaper no later than four hours following a publication’s release. Copies must further be submitted to the central and external services of the Ministry of Communication not later than two hours following its release. Once a year publishing houses must submit to the competent SDO a balance sheet for each of their publications, as well as a list of owners and members of their editorial staff.

3.3 Possible seizure of copies/closure of broadcasting stations
Each press organ is bound by sections 13 to 14 of the law to submit two signed copies of each publication to the competent State Council, the SDO and the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation, not less than two hours prior to distribution to the public. The distributor of a foreign press organ must, according to section 23, submit two copies of each issue to the Ministry of External Relations, the Minister of Communication, and the Minister of Justice not less than 24 hours prior to its distribution.
32 Section 7(3) of Law No. 96/04 of 4 January 1996.

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These provisions open the door for censorship. More specifically, section 17 allows the ‘competent administrative authority’ to order the seizure of a print media publication or the closure of a radio or television station, while the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation may issue an order to ban a print media publication or to prohibit its circulation or distribution, as the case may be, where the content constitutes a threat to ‘public order’. The prominent private French daily Mutation had its 14 April 2003 edition seized after the paper had been publishing articles on ‘Life after (President) Biya’. The police also confiscated the computer disk and detained three of the publication’s journalists for questioning. In February 2008, the government closed down Equinoxe Radio and Television in Douala and Magic FM in Yaoundé, a Voice of America (VOA) affiliate, and confiscated their equipment, which included VOA transmission equipment. The government claimed that these stations did not practise ‘responsible journalism’ and did not respect the ethics of the profession during violent strike actions which paralysed the country for one week and left over 100 people dead. The stations were re-opened several months later. Media scholar Francis B. Nyamnjoh points out that according to the law as amended in 1996 ‘a search of the premises of a press organ can be conducted by the police without warrant and without any judicial action, if the administrative authority thinks that public order is endangered. Although still no clear indication is given on what constitutes public order or a threat to it. This provision is contrary to the former law which authorised such a search only in cases of judicial inquiry.’33

3.4 defamation and contempt of court
Cases of alleged defamation are divided into two categories: criminal and civil. The law permits the victim of an alleged defamatory publication to lodge either a criminal complaint or to file a civil suit before a competent court. The Freedom of Mass Communication Law (Law No. 90/52 of 19 December 1990) outlines civil remedies for cases of defamation by the press. Section 52 states that ‘the Publisher of a Press Organ is obliged to publish, in the next issue of his journal, every rectification addressed to him by a depositary of a public authority in relation to his duties which were wrongly reported’. The law also makes provision for a right to reply – in regard to newspapers in section 53, in regard to broadcasters in section 57. The amendment law of 1996 goes much further and says in its section 17(5):
33 F.B. Nyamnjoh, Media ownership and control in Cameroon: Constraints on media freedom, published by World Association of Christian Communication (WACC), www.global.org.

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Any person whose honour, dignity, esteem, reputation or private life has been injured may request … without prejudice to legal action – either the seizure of a press organ by the administrative authority; – or through a writ of injunction, the withdrawal from circulation of a press organ.

The Cameroon Penal Code in its section 305(1)(2) makes libel a criminal offence, and subsection (3) expressly excludes truth as a possible defence in such cases: ‘No proof may be offered of the truth of a defamatory imputation where (a) it concerns the private life of the person defamed’. Sections 153 and 154 of the Penal Code give special ‘protection’ to public figures such as the president and vice-president, foreign heads of state, accredited diplomats, members of the judiciary, the armed forces and government, parliamentarians and civil servants. The publishers of L’Anecdote and Nouvelle Afrique were convicted on 23 January 2007 for having injured the reputation of a minister. Their papers had published his name in a list of prominent personalities allegedly practising homosexuality. They were sentenced to four months in prison and fined 1 million frs CFA (US$ 2 200) each. In another case, in January 2009 the publisher of the weekly La Detente Libre was sentenced to three years in prison and a fine of two million frs CFA (US$ 4 400) for ‘dissemination of false news’.34 Section 169 of the Penal Code deals with prejudicial comments:
Whoever refers publicly to any judicial proceedings not yet terminated by final judgment in a manner liable to influence, whether intentionally or not, the opinion of any person or against any party, shall be punished with an imprisonment for 15 days to three months and a fine from 10 000 frs CFA 10 000 to 100 000frs CFA (US$ 22–220).

Section 169(3) increases the sanction for media:
Where the offence is committed through print media, radio or television, the imprisonment shall be from three months to two years and the fine from 100.000frs CFA to 5.000.000frs CFA (US$ 220–11 000).

Such a provision has a dangerous, chilling effect on any critical coverage of court cases.

34 Freedom House, op.cit.

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3.5 code of conduct
Decree No. 92/313/PM of 24 September 1992 laid down an official code of ethics for journalists. The Cameroon Union of Journalists (CUJ) adopted this code in 1996. In 2004, the CUJ created the Cameroon Media Council (CMC), an independent, self-regulating body of journalists that aims to promote press freedom, access to information, professionalism, and ethical reporting. The CMC has as part of its mission the goal of reviewing and disciplining media professionals and arbitrating complaints against journalists. Such complaints include breaches of ethics such as the common practice of newspaper reporters and editors accepting payments from politicians and business people in exchange for writing articles that contain unsubstantiated allegations against their opponents and competitors. Relations between the CMC and CUJ are increasingly strained. The Union maintains that the Council is its affiliate while the Council insists that it is an autonomous body.35 The CMC is supported by the Minister of Communication.

3.6 Press cards
Section 1 of Decree No. 90/060 of 12 January 1990 on the introduction of press cards specifies that a press card issued by the competent administrative authority is the only official document affirming an individual’s status as a professional journalist. In addition, a law on the identification of journalists and auxiliaries of the profession which formally came into effect in May 1991 stipulates in its section 1(1) that a journalist is somebody who ‘possesses a professional identity card’ – in other words: whoever does not carry a press card issued by the state is not regarded as a journalist. Section 7 of the same law says that the professional identity card has to be presented before a journalist is allowed to cover ‘official’ events. Surprisingly, this law was widely unknown in the industry until 2004 when a commission charged with issuing the press cards was created.36 Currently, the prime minister’s office is responsible for granting press cards, a process which is very slow. Identification cards issued by media houses are ‘of no value’.37

35 http://www.postnewsline.com/2008/09/media-council-f.html. 36 African Media Barometer (AMB), Cameroon Report 2008, Windhoek 2008. 37 Ibid.

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3.7 Protection of sources
Generally, sections 46–50 of the Freedom of Mass Communication Law give journalists the right not to disclose their source of information. However, the law does provide for disclosure before a judge in camera. Section 10(1) of Decree No. 92/313/PM of 24 September 1992, which established a code of ethics for journalists, confirms their right to refuse to reveal sources of information. In practice, though, state authorities have attempted to force journalists, occasionally even by means of torture, to reveal their sources of confidential information. In 2001, for example, the editor-in-chief of the French language newspaper Mutation was detained for days at the police headquarters in Yaoundé because the paper had published a list of appointments within the police force. The intention was to make him reveal his source – but he did not do so.38

3.8 Access to information
Section 41(1) of Decree No. 2000/287 of 12 October 2000 on the general rules and regulations of the public service stipulates that:
All civil servants shall be bound to observe professional discretion in respect of all facts, information or documents of which they have knowledge in the performance or in the course of the performance of their duties. Apart from the cases expressly provided for by the regulations in force a civil servant may not be released from his /her obligation except by an express decision from the authority under whom (s)he works.

The decree makes it an offence for a government official to release any document for whatever reason. Furthermore section 41(2) states that:
Any unlawful possession or removal of service papers or documents shall be strictly forbidden. The same shall apply to the disclosure or copying thereof, except for service reasons and in the manner prescribed by regulations in force.

38 Ibid.

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4 Conclusions and recommendations
Independent media seem to be regarded by the authorities as a potential threat to be guarded against rather than as a vital pillar of a democratic state. The regulatory framework for the media in Cameroon certainly does not encourage a vibrant media environment and is not in line with international and African standards such as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa 2002, which, in its clause III, obliges ‘authorities to take positive measures to promote diversity which include among other things … [the] availability and promotion of a range of information and ideas to the public’. The need to licence publications, even though this is not being strictly policed, drives some media houses into illegality and the obligation to deposit each and every copy of a publication with the relevant legal departments and administrative authorities prior to distribution amounts to indirect censorship. The authority given to the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation and local administrators to ban, seize and confiscate a publication is a further impediment and serious threat to a free media. All these measures contravene the principles expressed in the Declaration on Freedom of Expression, which says in its clause II that ‘any restrictions on freedom of expression shall be provided by law, serve a legitimate interest and be necessary in a democratic society’. The requirement that only journalists carrying a press card issued by the Prime Minister’s Office will be acknowledged as such is a severe infringement of the right to freedom of expression, as is the fact that a code of ethics has been imposed upon them by decree. The Declaration on Freedom of Expression says in its clause IX(3): ‘Effective self-regulation is the best system for promoting high standards in the media.’ The provisions on criminal defamation and contempt of court in the Cameroon Penal Code have a serious chilling effect on critical reporting. Access to information held by the state is almost impossible. This is in blatant contravention of clause IV of the Declaration on Freedom of Expression, which says: ‘Public bodies hold information not for themselves but as custodians of the public good and everyone has a right to access this information, subject only to clearly defined rules established by law.’

recommendations
• The Law on Freedom of Mass Communication needs to be repealed and replaced by legislation that conforms with the constitution of Cameroon, which guarantees freedom of expression and the press, as well as with

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• •

international and African standards such as the Declaration on Freedom of Expression. Some of the main changes to be made are the following: – There must be no registration of publications by state authorities. Media houses, like any other company, should have to comply only with the relevant company law. – There must be no obligation to deposit copies of publications with state authorities prior to publication. The need for all copies of all publications to be deposited with the National Archives and the benefit of such extensive archiving should be assessed realistically. – There must be no provision that allows state authorities to ban, seize or confiscate publications. Such confiscation, if any, must be authorised by a court of law and only be possible for very limited and specified reasons, for example propaganda for war. – There must be no legal provision that allows individuals aggrieved by a certain publication to ask for the seizure of the issue in question by the authorities. Those, including the state, who might be offended by certain content can seek redress by approaching a voluntary self-regulatory body set up by the media or by lodging civil cases of libel or defamation in the courts of law. – There must be no right for state authorities to search premises of media houses without a warrant issued by a judge. Media lobby groups such as the Cameroon Union of Journalists (CUJ) should urgently initiate a process of legal reform by establishing a Task Group to further analyse the Law on Freedom of Mass Communications and develop new legislation. The restriction on ownership in sections 25 to 29 of the Law on Freedom of Mass Communication, which bars media houses from publishing more than three titles should be reviewed, considering economic realities and the need for cost-effective production. The provisions on defamation and contempt of court in the Penal Code need to be reviewed. Media groups together with representatives of civil society should develop a code of professional standards for journalists independently of the state and demand that Decree No. 92/313/PM of 1992, which imposed such a code, be repealed.

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• The media industry should strengthen the Cameroon Media Council as an independent body by, among others, financing it themselves rather than relying on the Ministry of Communication for funding. • Press cards should be issued by media associations and media houses themselves, not by state authorities. • Access to information legislation should be initiated following the guidelines set by the Declaration on Freedom of Expression: – everyone has the right to access information held by public bodies; – everyone has the right to access information held by private bodies which is necessary for the exercise or protection of any right; – any refusal to disclose information shall be subject to appeal to an independent body and/or the courts; – public bodies shall be required, even in the absence of a request, actively to publish important information of significant public interest; – no one shall be subject to any sanction for releasing in good faith information on wrongdoing, or that which would disclose a serious threat to health, safety or the environment save where the imposition of sanctions serves a legitimate interest and is necessary in a democratic society; and secrecy laws shall be amended as necessary to comply with freedom of information principles.

3
The Broadcasting Landscape

The Prime Ministerial Decree of 3 April 2000 (2000/158) paved the way for the creation of dozens of private audiovisual media houses in Cameroon and established diversification of ownership beyond the state. It took another seven years until 30 August 2007, however, for the government to issue the first official licences to two private television stations, STV and Canal 2 International, one private radio, Sweet FM, and one cable television network, TV+. Some stations such as TV Max and Canal 2 had gone on air before the official authorisation with ‘test broadcasts’.

1

Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV)

The state broadcaster CRTV runs one national television station with a network of transmitters covering 80 per cent of the country, one national radio station, ten regional (MW) and four local (FM) radio stations. The TV station broadcasts in French and English 24 hours daily, the national radio stations broadcasts in French (80 per cent) and English (20 per cent), and the provincial and local stations use national languages. For details see chapter 6.

2

Commercial broadcasters

There are approximately 80 private radio stations and seven private television stations in Cameroon. Just over half of all radio stations are located in the two major cities of Yaoundé and Douala. The others spread out over the various regions, with the North West accounting for 13.7 per cent, the West 9.6 per cent, the South West 8.2 per cent, the North 4.1 per cent, and the other three regions (Far North, East and Adamawa) for

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1.4 per cent each. Most private radio stations broadcast on FM. There are no private national radio stations. Four TV stations (Spectrum Television – STV, Equinoxe TV, Canal 2 International and Canal 5 TV) are located in the commercial capital of Douala and two (Ariane TV and Television Lumiere) in the national capital Yaoundé. Bamenda, the capital of the North West region, has one TV station, Republican Television Network. Private radio and television stations are owned by individuals – in many cases parliamentarians, mayors or party officials – or companies, like Groupe Nouvelle Expression (GNE), which operates Equinoxe Radio and Equinoxe TV and also owns the daily national newspaper La Nouvelle Expression. The owners decide on the editorial policies of their media companies – GNE, for example, prioritises human interest stories. Many private stations focus on such stories and on reporting that is critical of government actions and have thus managed to increase their audiences. For instance, during a violent five-day taxi drivers’ strike in February 2008, most Cameroonians depended on the private television stations, especially STV, for information. This prompted some government officials to call in to private radio and TV stations during interactive programmes in an attempt to persuade the strikers to return to work. Some broadcasters have ended up with problems because of their critical stance. For example, Magic FM, owned by Mbida Ndzana Gregoire, a CPDM mayor of a Yaoundé locality, had its equipment seized by the security agencies during civil unrest in February 2008. Others like STV and Canal 2 International stay apolitical to avoid getting into trouble.

3

Ratings for state and commercial broadcasting

According to audience research carried out in May and June 2009,39 by far the largest number of respondents listened to the state radio station Poste National CRTV. Fifty per cent said they had listened to that station, followed by the private station Sweet FM (36 per cent). CRTV (68 per cent) and Canal 2 (66 per cent) were neck and neck in terms of viewers who had watched in the previous seven days, while slightly over a third of respondents had watched Canal Horizon (37 per cent) and STV (34 per cent). Only 14 per cent had watched CFI, the international broadcaster, in the previous seven days. Overall, Canal 2 was the top favourite TV station (23 per cent) followed by CRTV (17 per cent).
39 Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009.

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Table 2: Watched TV in the past 7 days
station CRTV Canal 2 Canal Horizon STV TV5 Sports Equinoxe RTL9 TFI Planette Cine Cinemas Manga CFI MCM 13ieme Watched past 7 days (%) 68 66 37 34 30 29 26 26 23 20 18 18 14 10 9 favourite station (%) 17 23 8 5 3 6 2 3 2 4 2 2 4 1 1

Source: Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

4 Community and other forms of broadcasting
The legislation on broadcasting is not very specific on community broadcasting. It only talks about non-commercial services with a national or local range and of a general or thematic nature, with no advertising. There is no mention of the fact that local radio stations should be established and controlled by communities, and operations based on the norms and socio-economic and cultural conditions of the respective community. There are three main types of community radio stations in Cameroon: rural, religious and university-owned. Rural radio stations were set up as far back as 1997 with the assistance of a Canadian NGO, which started five stations. Radio Rurale Lolodorf was the first of these to go on air on 15 July 1997. Rural radio stations are seen as catalysts for development in rural communities and are supposed to be apolitical. The state broadcaster also uses them to disseminate its news in vernacular languages. Radio Bonakanda, situated on the outskirts of Buea, for example, is listened to by some 78 per cent of the rural population in the area. News is the most important aspect of this station’s programming. In addition to relaying the national news from the government-owned CRTV network, Radio Bonakanda

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broadcasts news in the vernaculars of the Bakweri people who are the main clans around Bonakanda and the neighbouring villages. Announcements of general interest are sometimes broadcast in Pidgin English in order to reach semi-literate people and those who do not understand the local vernacular. This is common practice in most of the rural radio stations in Cameroon. Almost every major town or city in the country has a religious radio station owned and run by a religious denomination. Radio Reine in Yaoundé (owned by the Roman Catholic Church) was the first such station to be set up. The Catholic Church also owns Radio Veritas (Douala) and intends to set up radio stations in Buea and Bamenda. There are also the Christian Gospel Radio in Bamenda, owned by a group of Pentecostal churches, Christian Broadcasting Service-Buea (CBS) of the Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Voice (Bamenda), and Radio Bonne Nouvelle (Yaoundé). Presently there are more than 20 low-power rural community radio stations in Cameroon, all with extremely limited broadcast ranges. Femmes FM in Mbalmayo in the Centre region and Radio Bonakanda in the South West region are the most prominent among them. Others are Oku Rural Radio in the North West region, Voice of Manyu in the South West region, Radio Foutouni in West region, and Radio Dana in the Far North region. These were the first rural radio stations to be established, but lack of funding, inadequate maintenance and erratic power supply have led to their being off air frequently. Ten of these stations were funded by UNESCO in 2002, but:
After creation, they were left on their own as members of the various communities were expected to completely take over the running of such stations. Neither the public authorities nor the private sector have any special programmes to promote community broadcasting. With poverty ravaging the communities where these radio stations are found, it has been very difficult to run them. They now depend on the elites of those localities. The elites who foot the bills believe they have the right to dictate the pace, especially from the standpoint of content. The consequence is that the community radio stations are losing their unique identity as a vehicle for community development and embracing lots of political propaganda. 40

A 2002 ministerial order was supposed to assist community broadcasting with public funds. Community radio stations can apply for subsidies, but they have never benefited from them.41

40 African Media Barometer (AMB), Cameroon Report 2008, Windhoek 2008. 41 Ibid.

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Radio Campus (University of Yaoundé), Radio Television Siantou-Institut Siantou Superieure (RTS) in Yaoundé, Chariot FM (University of Buea) and Abakwa FM (National Polytechnic – Bamenda) are radio stations set up by higher education institutions and are also used for the training of journalism students.

5

Technical standard and accessibility of services

5.1 radio
Radio coverage extends to about 80 per cent of the country, but the technical quality and accessibility of broadcast services are poor in some areas. Only CRTV covers all ten regions with a network of radio stations coordinated from the national station based in Yaoundé (although this coverage is not 100 per cent either). One of the zones not covered by CRTV is the Ndian Division in the South West region. This area does not receive any radio or TV signals. The current radio network is an extension of the network of old post-colonial stations (e.g. the Buea TRT transmitter) set up in the 1960s. This network was extended in 1977 and it currently covers towns and cities like Bafoussam, Bertoua, Yaoundé, Douala, Bamenda and Garoua. The technology for this network is analogue for short- and medium-wave broadcasting. In 1986, Cameroon acquired medium-strength frequency modulation transmitters aimed at providing good quality radio broadcasts. Most mobile phones have the capability to receive radio broadcasts.

5.2 television
Television coverage is about 60 per cent of the country connected to the electricity grid. TV uses an all-analogue network with 32 broadcast centres and 64 transmitters. Broadcasting on the PAL-B television signal on band III was introduced between 1985 and 1986. The various stations of the national radio and television network were linked exclusively by the public switched telephone network (PSTN), managed at the time by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and today by CAMTEL. New technologies like the multipoint multichannel distribution system (MMDS), a band shared by other services, are being used to provide television programming.

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CRTV started satellite broadcasting in March 2001, thus reducing the effects of connection breakdowns of the PSTN. This also resulted in the complete liberalisation of Cameroon’s telecommunications sector. STV and Canal 2 broadcast via a national network of transmitters that use fibre optic cables. Both can be received in most of the southern half of Cameroon. Canal 2, STV and Equinoxe TV broadcast via satellite and are also available as cable bouquet packages in several big cities. The cable distributors provide a bouquet of 30 channels at a fee ranging between US$ 6 and US$ 10 a month. CRTV Television is also accessible on the internet. Since 2006, taped programmes have been digitised and stored in virtual video libraries accessible online. In addition, CRTV broadcasts podcasts online which consist mostly of recorded news and some popular current affairs programmes. CRTV and STV, Canal 2 International and Equinox TV are also available on mobile phones. However, the number of people receiving broadcasts via the internet and mobile phones is relatively low as this form of broadcasting is still in its infancy. Broadband is not yet available but there are plans to introduce it.

6

Concentration of media ownership

Sections 42 and 43 of the Prime Ministerial Text of 3 April 2000 (No. 2000/158) say:
No single natural person or corporate body may be granted more than one licence for the setting up and operation of a private audio-visual communication company; and It shall be forbidden for a natural person or corporate body to own more than one audio-visual communication company and a press organ at the same time.

In spite of this provision, as mentioned above, the Groupe Nouvelle Expression of Severin Tchounkeu owns a French daily newspaper (Nouvelle Expression), a radio station (Equinoxe Radio) and a TV station (Equinoxe TV) all in one city, Douala, the economic capital. The state itself is also in breach of this legislation by owning both CRTV and the daily newspaper Cameroon Tribune.

THE BROADCASTING LANDSCAPE

33

7

Conclusions and recommendations

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression says in its clause 5:
1. States shall encourage a diverse, independent private broadcasting sector. A State monopoly over broadcasting is not compatible with the right to freedom of expression. 2. The broadcast regulatory system shall encourage private and community broadcasting in accordance with the following principles: • there shall be equitable allocation of frequencies between private broadcasting uses, both commercial and community … • community broadcasting shall be promoted given its potential to broaden access by poor and rural communities to the airwaves.

The development of both the commercial and the community broadcasting sector in Cameroon has been impressive. There is a considerable amount of diversity in the industry which comprises a state broadcaster operating one TV channel, ten regional/ local radio stations, and ten commercial FM radio stations, six privately owned national and local TV stations, at least 80 private radio stations and quite a number of rural, religious and university radio stations. Moreover, there are cable and direct broadcast satellite TV stations operating from within and outside Cameroon. This diversity notwithstanding, the state broadcaster is still the dominant player given its technical reach and financial support from the state. The independence of small rural and community radio stations from government interference is not properly guaranteed and the proliferation of religious-based radio stations could be a point of concern. Community radio stations are in no way promoted by the state.

recommendations
Cameroon should develop a broadcasting policy with the following objectives to: • Introduce a coherent three-tier system (public, commercial and community) with precise definitions of the various sectors and concrete measures to promote them;

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• Create a Media Diversity Agency that should support and encourage the creation of community and other small local broadcasting stations and be funded by contributions from the media industry and government; • Guarantee the independence of community broadcasting from political and financial pressures; • Review the legislation on cross-media ownership considering the need to create a sustainable media industry in a resource-poor economy.

4
Digitalisation and its Impact

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a United Nations agency tasked with coordinating global telecommunications and services, has set a deadline of 17 June 2015 for broadcasters in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Islamic Republic of Iran to migrate to digital television broadcasting technology, on both the transmission and the reception side. Deadlines for the digitalisation of radio have not yet been determined. The ITU agreement, however, allows for an additional five years beyond the 2015 cut-off point, 42 up to 2020, for many African countries, among them Cameroon, though some have voluntarily committed themselves to the earlier deadline. The ITU sees the digitalisation of broadcasting as a means of establishing a more equitable, just and people-centred information society, leapfrogging ‘existing technologies to connect the unconnected in underserved and remote communities and close the digital divide’.43 The switch-over from analogue to digital broadcasting will expand the potential for a greater convergence of services, with digital terrestrial broadcasting supporting mobile reception of video, internet and multimedia data. Digitalisation of television is seen as a means of enhancing the viewer’s experience by enabling better quality viewing through wide-screen, high definition pictures and surround sound, as well as interactive services. It also allows for innovations such as handheld TV broadcasting devices (Digital Video Broadcasting – Handheld, or DVB-H), and will mean greater bandwidth for telecommunication services. 44 Importantly, it will also allow for the creation of many more television channels through greater spectrum efficiency.

42 ‘Digital broadcasting set to transform the communication landscape by 2015’, June 2006, http://www.itu.int/ newsroom/press_releases/2006/11.html. 43 Ibid. 44 Ibid.

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1

Preparedness for digital switch-over

Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge in an address to the National Assembly in December 2002 declared the government’s intention to digitalise the broadcasting sector:
We pursued the process to modernise the national audio-visual network, the reform of the advertising sector, the enhancement and strengthening of Cameroon’s prestige abroad. It is also worth mentioning the linking of CRTV to the satellite system and the passing from the analogue to the digital system. 45

In 2008 the government asked all operators to go digital as a matter of policy to ensure better reception, 46 but there is no fixed date for the migration from analogue to digital TV transmission as yet. Presently, TV signals are still encoded using the analogue method. Digitalisation of broadcasting in Cameroon is mainly at the level of production and storage. In 2007, following a CRTV study of its technical equipment, government requested South Korea to help transform the broadcasting and management systems of CRTV television from analogue to digital. In May 2008, a delegation from Korean company POSDATA came to Cameroon to do a needs assessment and conduct technical studies with a view to installing digital broadcasting and management systems. 47 POSDATA started putting the digital system in place in July 2008 and the first operational quality tests were conducted in January 2009. Two 10-kilowatt transmitters were donated to CRTV by the government of Japan and installed in the state broadcaster’s national and Centre region stations to boost reception quality. The new equipment provides high quality images and crisp clear audio. In preparation for digitalisation, CRTV has installed switchable transmission systems. All 14 newly installed transmitters are both analogue and digital. Digital transmission will be via satellite and not via terrestrial relay. CRTV is also installing digital production equipment although the central matrix is still analogue. For this to succeed there is need for integration and standardisation. Equipment, which must all be non-linear and virtual (no tapes) with the use of a central server, will have to come from the same manufacturer.

45 Government’s economic, financial, social and cultural programme for fiscal year 2001–2002 presented to the National Assembly by Prime Minister, Head of Government, Yaoundé, 9 December 2002. 46 Interview with Richard Fegue Ekani, sub-director of Private Audio-Visual Communication at the Ministry of Communication in September 2008. 47 Kendemeh, ‘Cameroon: Koreans to Install Digital Broadcasting in CRTV’, Cameroon Tribune, 12 May 2008.

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Most private broadcasting companies such as STV and Canal2 already use digital production and post-production facilities. Consumers will need to buy either new television sets or set-top boxes (STBs) to receive the digital signal, but there are no concrete plans, let alone a policy, in place yet on any form of state assistance in this regard, for example through subsidies. The smooth implementation of the switch-over is now one of the major challenges that the Cameroonian government, ICT regulators, the broadcasting industry and consumer organisations are facing.

2

Conclusions and recommendations

Unless decisive action is taken over the next few years, and the requisite financial resources are found, the pace of migrating from analogue to digital will be very slow and Cameroon might be left behind as an analogue island in a digital ocean. Digital migration calls for a complete overhaul of production and transmission equipment. Investments of this magnitude require substantial budgets. Additional financial means need to be found to ensure that consumers are able to receive digital signals through set-top boxes.

recommendations
• Government should be urged to: – develop a detailed roadmap, based on a clear legal framework, towards the deadline of 2020 in consultation with all stakeholders: broadcasters, signal distributors and consumers in particular; – step up public awareness campaigns of the digital migration process and what it entails by initiating a massive educational drive; – develop a suitable subsidy scheme for set-top boxes to avoid the risk of vulnerable communities being permanently switched off due to the unaffordability of such devices, and set suitable specifications for imported STBs and waive import duties on these devices; – devise measures to ensure that importers offer television sets that are digital ready, i.e. capable of receiving signals without additional STBs, to prevent people from investing unnecessarily in equipment that will soon be obsolete;

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Ensure protection for vulnerable media such as small television stations when setting fees payable to the signal distributor; – Consider zero-rating tax on digital broadcasting equipment to enable broadcasting houses to purchase more digital equipment (this facility could be granted for a limited period). • The media industry and other stakeholders should prepare themselves for the development of a new licensing regime for television and develop suitable models.

5
Broadcasting Legislation and Regulation

The regulatory framework for broadcasting involves three main actors: the government through the Ministry of Communication, Parliament and the National Communications Council (NCC). Parliament debates and passes the laws on mass communication. It also debates the annual budget of the state broadcaster as well as that of the Ministry of Communication, which is in charge of the state broadcaster and responsible for providing subsidies to private sector broadcasters. Parliament also approves the budget of the Ministry of Finance, which collects the audiovisual tax and provides the necessary funding for the state broadcaster. The government drafts laws and issues decrees, texts, ordinances and notes of service. These legal instruments stipulate the conditions and documents that anyone wishing to provide a private audiovisual communication service must fulfil and provide. The government also draws up the broadcasting policy, which is implemented by ministries such as Communication, Culture, Telecommunications, Trade and Industry and Finance. The Minister of Communication in collaboration with the NCC, a consultative body, is in charge of broadcasting regulations.

1

The National Communications Council (NCC)

The National Communications Council was created by Presidential Decree No. 91/287 of 21 June 1991. It is a consultative body placed under the authority of the Prime Minister, the head of government, to assist in the monitoring of national communication policies. Both the Minister of Communication and the NCC are accountable to the head of state through the Prime Minister. 48

48 Section 6(3) of Decree No. 2006-92 of 21 March 2006 to organise the Ministry of Communication.

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The Council works on the basis of Ordinance No. 86/001 of 26 April 1986, which created Cameroon Television (CTV), subsequently (from December 1987) CRTV. The ordinance defined the country’s broadcast policy as that of ‘ensuring the preservation of the national heritage’, and stipulated that ‘CRTV must promote government policy’. Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/PM of 3 April 2000 laid down the current regulatory framework on private audiovisual communication. The members of the NCC are appointed by presidential decree for a period of six years renewable every two years as provided for in article 2(2) of Presidential Decree No. 91/287 of 21 June 1991. The members include: • a representative appointed by the head of state for three years; • three representatives of journalists from the print media; • three representatives from the audiovisual media (radio, TV, cinema and photo); • two representatives of owners of newspapers, printing presses, bookshops; • an expert in communication law; • three representatives from religious organisations chosen by their various congregations; • two personalities chosen from a women’s organisation; • one personality from the cultural domain; • a representative from the Ministry of Communication; • a representative from the Ministry of External Relations; • a representative from the Ministry of Justice. For decisions of the NCC to be binding, they must be arrived at by consensus or by absolute majority of the votes cast. In case of a tie, the president has the deciding vote. The NCC is empowered to solicit the opinions of stakeholders and experts on any issue that requires proper clarification before taking major decisions. 49 Presently, the majority of the membership, including the chairperson of the NCC, consists of pro-government individuals. The functions of the NCC are to: • Examine the communication policies of the state; • Make recommendations on the harmonisation of laws and regulations related to social communication, the ethics of communication, access to the

49 Sections 8 and 9 of Presidential Decree No. 91/287 of 21 June 1991 to set up the National Communications Commission.

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41

media especially during electoral campaigns, and promotion of youth and children’s programmes; • Ensure transparency and balance in programmes; • Report to the government on licence applications by private audiovisual communication companies; and • Allocate frequencies.50 The NCC is also in charge of allocating time during election campaigns for party political broadcasts on CRTV to the various political parties. The NCC is the main arbiter especially in cases of defamation (slander or libel). According to the 1990 law on freedom of mass communication, members of the audience can bring a complaint to the NCC if they think they have been unfairly treated by a broadcaster. If the complaint is upheld, a rejoinder has to be aired in the same programme slot where the original offending broadcast was carried. In May 2010 the Council launched an audiovisual monitoring system which is capable of continuously recording ten television and 20 radio channels.51

2

Licensing of broadcasters and enforcement of licence conditions

Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/PM of 3 April 2000 defines the conditions for setting up a private audiovisual institution. The decree identifies three groups of persons or corporate bodies that can get involved in private audiovisual communication: radio and television broadcasters, cable and TV operators, and video producers. It is the prerogative of the Ministry of Communication to issue broadcasting licences after consultation with the NCC 52 and it has up to six months to notify the applicant whether the application has been approved or rejected. A licence applicant is required to submit several documents to the Ministry of Communication, including a certificate of residence, proof of the source of funding, a technical description of the network, the number, grades, qualifications and nationalities of personnel, and the frequency band the operator intends to occupy. In addition the applicant has to provide proof of payment of the application processing fee of up to 500 000 frs CFA (US$ 1 100).

50 Section 4(2) of Presidential Decree No. 91/287 of 21 June 1991 to set up the National Communication Commission. 51 www.periactes.com. 52 Section 8 of Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/ PM of 3 April, fixing the conditions and modalities of creating and exploiting private audio visual communication companies.

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The Minister of Communication issues a broadcast licence after consultation with the NCC53 on the basis of the submissions by a so-called technical commission which examines and approves or rejects the recommendation of the NCC.54 This commission is headed by the Minister of Communication or his representative and made up exclusively of representatives from various government departments with one member each coming from the: • • • • • • • • • • • • • Presidency Prime Minister’s Office Ministry of Finance Ministry of Town Planning Ministry of Transport (Department of Civil Aviation) Ministry of Telecommunication Ministry of Territorial Administration Ministry of Justice Ministry of Defence Ministry of Public Works Delegate General for National Security inter-ministerial organ of Cameroon telecommunication, and Telecommunications Regulation Agency.

If an application is approved the minister then will issue an installation authorisation based on the prior payment of a licence fee to the Treasury. The fees vary as follows: local non-commercial radio station – 5 million frs CFA (US$ 10 900) local commercial radio station – 10 million frs CFA (US$ 21 800) national non-commercial radio station – 10 million frs CFA (US$ 21 800) national commercial radio station – 50 million frs CFA (US$ 109 000) local non-commercial television station – 10 million frs CFA (US$ 21 800) local commercial television station – 50 million frs CFA (US$ 109 000) national non-commercial television station – 25 million frs CFA (US$ 54 500) • national commercial television station – 100 million frs CFA (US$ 218 000) • • • • • • •

53 Ibid. 54 Ibid., Sections 13(4) and 14.

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Because these fees are seen as exorbitant and unaffordable, many commercial broadcasters have been operating under what the government called ‘administrative tolerance’ while their applications were pending and they raised the necessary funds. However, in January 2010, the Minister of Communication announced that the government was ending ‘administrative tolerance’ and would crack down on stations operating without a fully paid licence. Non-commercial radio stations are exempted from paying licence fees. While many regard the prescribed processes of acquiring commercial broadcast licences as exceedingly cumbersome and demanding, Richard Ekani, the sub-director for private audiovisual media at the Ministry of Communication, says that ‘the procedure is long because the ministry wants to be prudent and avoid making bad decisions’.55 Licences are valid for five years in the case of radio and ten years for television stations. They are renewable on request following the recommendation of the NCC, on condition that the application for renewal is made six months before expiration of the current licence.56 Each sector of broadcasting has public service obligations. While the April 1986 Ordinance spells out the public service obligations of the state broadcaster, the Prime Ministerial Decree of 3 April 2000 stipulates similar obligations for private audiovisual companies. Section 30, for example, states:
Programmes and mainly informative programmes shall respect pluralistic expression and balance the various trends of thought. These trends shall benefit from an equitable presentation of political, philosophical, social and cultural points of view.

In addition, ‘[r]adio broadcasting firms shall schedule national productions for at least 51 per cent of the daily air time’; and ‘[e]very private audio-visual communication firm shall be bound, within the scope of its musical programmes, to broadcast 60 per cent of Cameroonian songs at prime time’. Compliance with licence conditions is monitored and enforced by the Ministry of Communication, which also monitors the technical operating conditions of the various stations. Such checks are often done in an impromptu manner with the assistance of experts from the Ministry of Telecommunications.

55 Interview with Richard Fegue Ekani, sub-director of Private Audio-Visual Communication at the Ministry of Communication in September 2008. 56 Section 9 of Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/ PM of 3 April.

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Failure to comply with the obligations and conditions of the licence may result in a warning, the suspension of the licence for a period not exceeding six months, and finally a withdrawal of the licence.57 The closure of broadcasting operations is a not-infrequently applied sanction. In 2004, for example, officials closed and sealed the offices of Freedom FM a day before the station was to begin broadcasting. The Ministry of Communications claimed that the station had not adhered to the proper procedures in applying for a broadcasting licence, which the owner contested. The ministry also ordered Radio Veritas, founded by Catholic Cardinal Christian Tumi, RTA and Canal 2 to stop broadcasting due to alleged licensing violations. Equinoxe Radio and Equinoxe TV were shut down in February 2008.

3

Conclusions and recommendations

Clause VII of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa says:
1. Any public authority that exercises powers in the areas of broadcast or telecommunications regulation should be independent and adequately protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature. 2. The appointments process for members of a regulatory body should be open and transparent, involve the participation of civil society, and shall not be controlled by any particular political party. 3. Any public authority that exercises powers in the areas of broadcast or telecommunications should be formally accountable to the public through a multi-party body.

The broadcasting regulatory mechanisms in Cameroon do not comply with any of these requirements. It is the Minister of Communication in collaboration with the National Communications Council (NCC) who is in charge of broadcasting regulations and licensing. The NCC is merely an advisory body under the authority of the Prime Minister, who has the last word on all decisions. The Council’s members are appointed by decree and most of them, including the chairperson, are pro-government individuals. The real power in the licensing process lies with a technical commission set up and headed by the minister.
57 Section 9 of Prime Ministerial Decree No. 2000/158/ PM of 3 April.

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Broadcasting regulation is thus firmly under the control of the government. Clause V(2) of the Declaration states:
The broadcast regulatory system shall encourage private and community broadcasting in accordance with the following principles: • there shall be equitable allocation of frequencies between private broadcasting uses, both commercial and community; • an independent regulatory body shall be responsible for issuing broadcasting licences and for ensuring observance of licence conditions; • licensing processes shall be fair and transparent, and shall seek to promote diversity in broadcasting; and • community broadcasting shall be promoted given its potential to broaden access by poor and rural communities to the airwaves.

The stiff licence fees for commercial operators certainly do not ‘encourage’ private broadcasting. The fact that community broadcasters are exempt from these fees is in accordance with this clause. The licensing processes are not transparent. There is no plausible reason why video producers should need to be licensed. The rationale for licensing operators in the broadcasting industry is mainly the scarcity of frequencies – this argument does not apply in the case of production houses.

recommendations
• Government and Parliament should be urged to develop and pass a new law on broadcasting regulation following these principles: – The National Communications Council should be independent of the government, political parties and media owners. – The NCC should be responsible for the regulation of all broadcasting (privately and state owned). Production houses do not fall within the remit of such a commission. – Members of the NCC should be appointed by Parliament in a transparent process with the involvement of civil society and other specific constituencies from which members are drawn. Such members should be persons with integrity, committed to freedom of expression and have specialised skills needed on the council. Office bearers with government and political

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parties as well as people with financial interests in the industry should be disqualified from membership. – To simplify and harmonise the process of licensing, the council should be vested with full regulatory powers, including the power to process applications and grant licences. – The council should be accountable to the public through Parliament. – It should be funded through direct budgetary allocation from Parliament on the basis of a proposal by the NCC as well as from a share of radio/TV set licence fees set by law. – Clear criteria and procedures for licensing, agreed upon in consultation with stakeholders, should be advertised by the council. Time limits should be set for the process, explanations should be supplied to unsuccessful applicants, and there should be provision for appeals through institutions such as the courts. – Political parties should be ineligible for obtaining a broadcasting licence. – Precise proportional stipulations of local and foreign content of broadcasters’ programming should be removed from legislation and left for the consideration of the NCC in consultation with stakeholders. – The complaints and sanctions process should be reviewed and make provision for an appeal mechanism. This should be done through the establishment of either a broadcasting complaints body or a dedicated, special body within the regulator, and also include the possibility of recourse to the courts. – This legislation should be developed with the participation of stakeholders and civil society at large. • As long as there is no new legislation, the NCC should recommend to the Ministry of Communication that: – the long and arduous process of obtaining radio and television licences be simplified; – licence fees for operators be reduced to a reasonable level in order to encourage diversity in the broadcasting sector; and – the Minister of Communication should allow recourse to the rule of law, i.e. opening up the route to courts in all cases of sanctions such as the withdrawal of licences.

6
Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) – Overview

1

Legislation

Television was introduced through the Presidential Decree of 26 April 1986 (Ordinance No. 86/001) that created Cameroon Television. The decree established a system of broadcasting that stayed in place until 2000 when the audiovisual section of the 1990 law on freedom of mass communication came into effect through the Prime Minister’s Ordinance No. 2000/158 of 3 April 2000. Following a strike by radio journalists over the creation of a corporation to run TV but not radio, the government issued Ordinance No. 87/020 of 17 December 1987. This incorporated radio into the national TV system, thereby creating Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), the state broadcaster. Section 4 of the 1986 ordinance prescribes specific goals for CRTV. According to the broadcaster’s website58 its mission includes: • The protection of general interest while explaining government policies and objectives; • Identifying the needs and living up to the aspirations of the population in the domain of information, education, entertainment and culture; • Contributing to the development of the audiovisual sector, making it competitive and respectful of moral values.

58 www.crtv.cm.

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The website says that ‘through it programs and other services rendered to the public since its creation CRTV strives to be’: • • • • A leader at the national level; Competitive at the international level; A provider of programmes that meet the expectation of the audience; and A consolidator of social cohesion in the country.

To make sure that the ‘government policies and objectives’ are ‘explained’ properly section 5(1) of Decree No. 88/126 of 25 January 1988 stipulates that the members of the CRTV board will be appointed by presidential decree. They are to represent the following ministries: • • • • • • Presidency of the Republic Ministry of Communication Ministry of Post and Telecommunication Ministry of National Education Ministry of Finance Ministry of Territorial Administration.

The head of state has the right to designate four other members at his/her own discretion. Regardless of where they come from there seems to be no doubt about their loyalties:
Even when members are chosen to represent a non-state institution, they soon turn out to be influential members of the ruling political party, the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement (CPDM). Even if they were not members of the CPDM, they would do everything to be seen to belong, probably to justify their appointment by the chairman of that party [who is also the President].59

The President also appoints the chair of the board. In most cases this has been the Minister of Communication. The board meets twice a year to approve appointments, determine editorial policy and approve the budget.

59 African Media Barometer (AMB), Cameroon Report 2008, Windhoek 2008.

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2

Profile of CRTV

The broadcast signals of CRTV television cover about 60 per cent of the national territory connected to the electricity grid. The broadcaster has a network of terrestrial transmitters, repeaters and boosters that carry the signals to those parts of the country that have electricity. CRTV signals are also available via satellite, making direct broadcast by satellite possible for people in areas where the terrestrial transmitters cannot provide coverage. The satellite signals are received in centres for onward transmission to cable services which carry the CRTV signal as one of the offerings within their bouquets of channels. The quality of the signal is not guaranteed. CRTV has one TV channel, with programming targeting different audiences at different times of the day with offerings such as breakfast TV, children’s programmes, news and current affairs, light entertainment, and a lot of drama in the form of series and films. Radio covers slightly above 80 per cent of the country. CRTV operates one national radio station, ten local or regional radio stations, and four commercial FM stations. The national station, Radio Yaoundé, broadcasts to the whole country and its news and current affairs programmes are all networked via the local stations and some rural stations (which are neither government-owned nor part of the CRTV network). Apart from the regional radio stations in Bamenda, Bafoussam, Bertoua, Buea, Douala, Ebolowa, Garoua, Maroua, Ngaoundere and Yaoundé, there are four FM stations affiliated to CRTV: FM 105 Douala, Mount Cameroon FM in Buea, Poala FM in Bafoussam and Yaoundé FM 94. FM 105 Douala and Yaoundé FM 94 broadcast for 24 hours while Mount Cameroon and Poala FM start transmission at 5h00 and close down at 2h00. The four FM stations are commercial stations with approximately 80 per cent music content (both popular and special interest) and human interest programming. They carry the national radio news bulletins six times a day. The national station is on air around the clock while regional stations begin broadcasting at 5h00 (in the case of Garoua and Maroua at 5h25 and 6h10, respectively) and end at 2h05. Only Maroua is connected with the national station from 00h00 to 6h10. The regional stations are part of CRTV’s network and have the same programme format as the mother station. However, some programmes at the regional level are designed to target the local population. For example, CRTV Buea allocates an hour (16h00–17h00) from Mondays to Fridays to local broadcasters, who address the needs of the local population in the vernacular languages. For details on programming see chapter 8.

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3

Organisational structures and staff

The general manager and the top executive managers of CRTV are all appointed by the President. These managers work under the authority of the Ministry of Communication.60 Eighty per cent of CRTV’s staff are civil servants. The top management is in charge of implementing the editorial policy of the Corporation. The general manager and a deputy are at the apex of the organisational structure. Reporting to them are inspectors general for information, technical affairs and finance as well as special advisers to the general manager. Next in line are the directors of the five major departments: finance, programmes, production, news and information, and technical affairs. Top management including all directors, editorial executives and senior journalists are located at the television house in Mballa II and at the national radio station, both in Yaoundé. The organisation has a written editorial policy established by the board. This was first laid down in 1994 by the former communication minister, Prof. Kontchou Kouomegni, through a note to all services under the ministry. In the note, the minister reminded those working at CRTV that they were state employees and could not use a state institution to criticise other state institutions. The CRTV’s editorial policy calls on all those in the employ of the state broadcaster to portray the government’s actions and performance in the economic and political domain positively, especially as regards the areas of poverty alleviation, governance, and the fight against corruption. The role of top management is to implement this policy by ensuring that all staff including junior reporters understand this mandate.61 This pro-government reporting has opened CRTV up to regular criticism especially during elections. Critics of the state broadcaster accuse it of openly supporting the CPDM – the ruling party. Journalists opposed to the CRTV’s pro-government bias have had no choice but to resign, as did Charles Ndichia, who left the Corporation in the early 1990s because of a ban on critical reporting. Other ‘recalcitrant’ journalists who are civil servants are given punitive transfers to the Ministry of Communication, where wages are much lower; their colleagues who are not civil servants are simply dismissed. Some journalists at CRTV, however, still see their public broadcasting role as being one of critical reporting. Evidence of this stance can be found in current affairs radio programmes like Morning Safari, Cameroon Calling and Dimanche Midi, which are known to be critical of government actions and officials. At times, some of the journalists working on these programmes receive so-called ‘letters of observation’ from
60 Section 1 of Ordinance No. 87/020 of 17 December 1987 creating CRTV. 61 Section 1(2) of Decree No. 88/126 of 25 January 1988 on the organisation and functioning of CRTV.

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management or are suspended from their jobs indefinitely. This was the case with the anchor of Cameroon Calling, Tewih Lambiv, when he criticised the computerisation of the electoral system in 2007. Robert Ekukole, director of production at CRTV, says that the public broadcaster only reports politically sensitive events when asked to do so by government whereas the private stations, on the other hand, are free to decide on whatever they wish to cover.62 Media scholar Francis B. Nyamnjoh summarises the situation at CRTV as follows:
The government not only monopolises broadcasting, it has made broadcasters part of the civil service. This has meant that civil servants or politicians with little or no knowledge about the media, are often charged with overseeing the way radio and television are operated. Professional broadcasters become subservient to these bureaucrats who determine appointments, salary scales, promotions, and who are expected to approve every initiative beforehand, no matter how technical or urgent. This is unduly harmful to creativity, and frustrating to talented broadcasters who are likely to give up entirely, or to become absorbed by the bureaucratic machinery. To guarantee that things are done its way, government appoints to positions of responsibility not necessarily those with merit and professional experience, but those who are politically in tune with the authorities. This practice has given rise to an over-zealous quest for positions of responsibility and other favours in some journalists of the Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) who may go to all lengths to support the regime in place.63

Staffing at CRTV has been a problem for the past few years since the appointment of Ahmadou Vamoulke as the general manager, the first journalist to run the organisation. The French-speaking news desk is over-staffed while the English desk suffers from shortages. There are also many workers on the payroll who are not productive, but no action is taken in this regard. This has been a bone of contention between management and some unions at the corporation. The corporation needs professionals and more funding to produce better programmes. It is believed that layoffs have not taken place because of resistance from the board chairman and some members of the ruling elite intent on protecting the interests of their tribesmen and women. The helplessness of the general manager in these matters
62 Robert Ekukole, director of production, CRTV, Yaoundé, interviewed in September 2008. 63 F.B. Nyamnjoh, Media ownership and control in Cameroon: Constraints on media freedom, published by World Association of Christian Communication (WACC), www.global.org.

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prompted a group of top journalists at CRTV to write a letter to newspapers and senior government officials complaining about his incompetence. Working conditions at the state broadcaster are definitely much better than in the private sector. The salary at entry level for journalists with a Bachelor’s degree at CRTV is 300 000frs CFA (US$ 650) a month, while those at Spectrum Television (STV) are paid only 150 000frs CFA and as little as 50 000frs CFA at Equinoxe Radio/TV or Canal 2 TV.64 Newly recruited journalists are usually sent to the CRTV training school at Ekounou (on the outskirts of Yaoundé) for three months before they take up their work as radio or TV programme producers and reporters or as technical staff. All newly recruited journalists are also sent to the culture and communication ministries or an orientation period of two to three months before assuming their positions. The audiovisual sector draws its technical personnel from people with traditional telecommunications training. There are also many private institutions such as the National Advanced School of Posts and Telecommunications, the National Advanced School of Engineering, and the university institutes of technology that offer training in audiovisual media. Content specialists are trained at the Advanced School of Mass Communication of the University of Yaoundé II, the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication of the University of Buea, and at many private institutions, in particular the Professional Audio-Visual Training Centre in Yaoundé.

4 Conclusions and recommendations
CRTV is a state broadcaster – in law, in policy and in practice. Although it was set up to be a public broadcaster, the fact that its board is appointed by the head of state and chaired by the Minister of Communication, with its entire top management appointed directly by the government, clearly makes it a state broadcaster. The civil service structure of CRTV imposes a lot of constraints on staff and affects the production of programmes. In all material respects the CRTV is thus in contravention of clause VI on Public Broadcasting of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa, which says:

64 Interviews with journalists at the different media houses.

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State and government controlled broadcasters should be transformed into public service broadcasters, accountable to the public through the legislature rather than the government, in accordance with the following principles: • public broadcasters should be governed by a board which is protected against interference, particularly of a political or economic nature; • the editorial independence of public service broadcasters should be guaranteed; […] • the public service ambit of public broadcasters should be clearly defined and include an obligation to ensure that the public receive adequate, politically balanced information, particularly during election periods.

recommendations
• A CRTV act must be developed and passed to transform the present state broadcaster into a public broadcaster that serves the public interest and reflects all shades of socio-political opinion. The act must outline clear governing structures which shield the broadcaster from political interference and interference from other powerful forces in society that seek to influence it unduly. • CRTV should be governed by a board established and acting according to the following principles: – Appointment procedures should be open, transparent and free from political interference. – The board should represent a broad cross-section of the Cameroonian population, including representatives of civil society in general, employers, trade unions, religious and other social bodies. – Persons who are office bearers with the state or political parties or have business interests in the media industry should not be eligible for board membership. – The board’s role should be clearly set out in law and its main responsibility should be to ensure that the public broadcaster is protected against undue political or commercial influences and fulfils its mandate in the public interest. – It should not interfere in the day-to-day decision-making of the broadcaster, especially in relation to broadcast content, and respect the principle of editorial independence.

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• The new CRTV Act should guarantee editorial independence for CRTV. • Management and journalists at CRTV need training on the concept of public broadcasting, focusing on: – principles and values of public broadcasting; – the role of journalists and management in a public broadcaster; – challenges facing public broadcasters in the era of commercialisation and competition; and – the role of public broadcasting in the digital era. • As interim measures: – Unproductive staff should be replaced with competent professionals. – The general manager should be given the freedom to perform his duties in a professional manner.

7
Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) – Funding

1

Main sources of funding

According to section 7 of the Presidential Decree of 26 April 1986 (Ordinance No. 86/001) which created Cameroon Television (to become CRTV in 1987), the sources of funding for the organisation are the products of its own activities, state grants, taxes, loans, gifts, assistance of all kinds, and advertising revenue. Seventy-six per cent of CRTV’s income is generated through an ‘audiovisual tax’ collected from all tax payers and business establishments. The monthly amount depends on the grade and salary earned and is deducted from employees’ salaries with the deduction being reflected on the pay slips. Workers who earn less than 62 000frs CFA (US$ 135) per month are exempted from this tax. In all about 75 per cent of the country’s working population in the formal and informal sectors are liable to pay the tax. It is levied by the Ministry of Finance and paid into a special account for CRTV. However, according to Robert Ekukole, the director of production at CRTV, this does not mean that the money is always available for the corporation to use whenever it needs it. In fact, the corporation has to go through a series of processes and negotiations to obtain its subsidies. This has caused a lot of delays and problems for the corporation in meeting its operational costs.65 Twenty-four per cent of CRTV’s income is expected to be raised through advertising. The CRTV Marketing and Commercial Agency is in charge of soliciting advertising from local and international advertisers.

65 Robert Ekukole, director of production, CRTV, Yaoundé, interviewed in September 2008.

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Other bodies and organisations such as the Ministry of Public Health and the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis provide monies for the production of radio and TV programmes (such as Health Watch). The Ministry of Forestry and Wildlife also funds radio and TV programmes on bio-diversity conservation. Mr Ekukole, however, regrets that these funds are mostly allocated to journalists at the central desk in Yaoundé, leaving the broadcasters at regional stations with no funds despite their being closer to the majority of audiences and better placed to produce programmes that would meet the needs of local populations. CRTV also receives indirect support from foreign media institutions like the BBC, Radio France Internationale and Canal France International, which supports the African audiovisual sector by offering around 2 500 hours’ worth of programmes every year, including films, documentaries, children’s shows and spots in French, English and Portuguese.

2

Spending

CRTV’s annual operating budget has dwindled from some 28 billion frs CFA (US$ 60 million) in 2004 to 17 billion frs CFA (US$ 37 million) in 2009. Obviously, there is not enough money to meet the needs of all departments – administration and technical services, as well as programme production and purchase. Mr Ekukole notes that only 1 per cent of the budget is spent on programme production, while salaries and allowances of top management make up close to 26 per cent.

3

Conclusions and recommendations

Article VI of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa states that ‘public broadcasters should be adequately funded in a manner that protects them from arbitrary interference with their budgets’. The present modus of funding CRTV does not comply with this provision. Three quarters of the funding is derived from taxes on the salaries of taxpayers which are raised by and channelled through the Ministry of Finance. The Ministry releases the required monies to the broadcaster only after negotiations and rarely in a timely fashion. This does constitute ‘arbitrary interference’. The broadcaster is not adequately funded. The fact that only 1 per cent of the overall budget is spent on programme production indicates that administrative costs, including the salary bill, are too high.

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recommendations
The basic precondition for any successful reform of funding is the passing and implementation of a new CRTV Act which will transform the state into a credible public broadcaster offering quality programming designed to meet diverse audience needs. In view of the present financial status of CRTV it is recommended that: • The board commission a thorough audit of the Corporation’s financial status by an independent accounting firm; • On the basis of a new programme policy the organisational structure of CRTV be reviewed and reformed, in particular regarding administrative processes and expenses; • On the basis of the new programme policy and organisational structure, a business plan be developed which reflects the financial needs of CRTV and potential sources of revenue. CRTV should be funded through a mix of audience fees, revenues from the state budget and advertisements/sponsorships. Regarding audience fees it is recommended that: • Audience fees form the backbone of CRTV’s funding because they provide a stable, predictable multi-year source of revenue and allow the broadcaster to plan and implement the necessary investment in programming and operational improvements; • Audience fees be paid by all households that pay taxes through the revenue service; • The amount of audience fees payable be fair and socially/economically justifiable; • Households in regions not covered by CRTV signals not be required to pay licence fees; • The amounts collected from this source go directly to CRTV. In regard to revenues from the state budget, it is recommended that: • An independent panel of experts determine the amount of the subsidy needed by CRTV over a three-year period to fulfill its public broadcasting mandate;

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• Parliament fund CRTV directly (and not through a ministry or department) on the basis of the amount determined by the panel of experts. Concerning advertisements and sponsorships it is recommended that: • CRTV develop clear and strict guidelines on soliciting advertisements and conditions for accepting advertisements and programme sponsorships that will safeguard the broadcaster’s editorial independence and clearly separate the responsibilities of the editorial and the marketing departments; • The new broadcasting regulator embark on a process of public consultation with the objective to set appropriate limits to advertising and sponsorship on CRTV.

8
Programming

1
1.1

Programme policies and guidelines
crtv

CRTV works under the provisions of section 4 of Ordinance No. 86/005 of April 26 1986, as outlined in chapter 5. They stipulate, among others, that CRTV will protect the ‘general interest while explaining government policies and objectives’. An editorial policy established by the board on the basis of these provisions calls on workers of the state broadcaster to portray positively the government’s actions in the domains of economic and political performance, especially in regard to poverty alleviation, governance, and the fight against corruption. Local content is a priority, according to Ahmadou Vamoulke, the general manager of CRTV. When he introduced the corporation’s new programming schedule put in place from April 2009, he stressed that local production would be encouraged to showcase Cameroon’s cultural heritage and diversity, rather than relying on foreign productions that did not portray the realities of the country.66

1.2 spectrum television (stv)
In the commercial broadcasting sector, Spectrum Television (STV) is one of the most influential private TV stations in the country. Its editorial policy is to promote fairness, balance and neutrality in news reporting, as outlined by Thierry Ngongan, STV’s director of information:

66 CRTV 19h00 news bulletin 28 March 2009.

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The main mission of Spectrum Television (STV) is to inform, educate and entertain the public. The main guiding principle for any journalist of STV is fairness and balance. In order to ensure that the public’s interest is taken into account, all reporters strive to have the views of the different parties involved in a dispute or event. Presenters of programmes should as a measure of fairness invite all parties in any dispute and avoid taking sides. The management of STV provides the necessary resources [to its staff] to ensure [that] no reporter is influenced.67

1.3 radio tiemeni siantou
Radio Tiemeni Siantou is one of the most influential private radio stations in the country. Regarding its editorial policy, station manager Eugene Messina68 said: Everything is centred on principles like objectivity and impartiality that guide the practice of journalism. We equally have the obligation to defend Cameroon in case of a threat from outside like the issue of the Bakassi Peninsula.69 According to Mr Messina these principles take cognisance of the values of public broadcasting such as providing access to a wide range of information and ideas from various sectors of society. They are also meant to ensure that news and current affairs programmes are not influenced by political, commercial and other special interests, and that the station’s programmes contribute to economic, social and cultural development by providing a credible forum for democratic debate without regard to religious beliefs, political persuasion, culture, race or gender.

2

Programme schedules

Programme schedules and programme content of the various stations were analysed in the week from 6 to 12 April 2009.

2.1 television
CRTV Television French language programmes accounted for 66.5 per cent of airtime during the week monitored, compared to 22 per cent for English programmes. The remaining 11.5 per
67 Interview in Douala in April 2009. 68 Interview in Yaoundé in April 2009. 69 This refers to the activities of a resistance group in the Bakassi Peninsula calling itself the Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF); see chapter 1.

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cent were bilingual programmes in both French and English. The English-speaking population seems to be underserved given that English is spoken by about 20 per cent of the population. Of the 173 programmes broadcast during the week, 70.5 per cent were local productions and 29.5 per cent were imports, mostly French language ones, such as Destins de Femmes, Planète Femmes, Trajectoires and Espaces Environnment, and about one fifth in English. News bulletins of 30 minutes are broadcast six times a day and made up 13.9 per cent of overall airtime during the week monitored: they are aired at 8h00 (Morning News – French and English language presenters), 12h00 (Midday News – French/ English), 19h30 (7h30 News – English), 20h30 (Le 20h30 – French), and midnight (Late Night News – French/English). At 18h00 Mondays to Fridays CRTV broadcasts a news bulletin in French and English with stories from the ten regional stations. Items that are sometimes left out of the main news bulletins because of time constraints are included in these newscasts. Current affairs programmes (9.5 per cent) include Scènes de Presse, broadcast live on Sundays from 21h00 to 22h00, where experts discuss the major news events during the week, with the audience participating by sending emails and text messages. Actualité Hebdo (‘Weekly News’) is broadcast Sundays 18h30 to 19h30. Inside the Presidency, one of the most watched programmes, offers a weekly review of the President’s activities and other major events in the country and is broadcast Mondays from 21h00 to 22h00. The breakfast shows from 6h00 to 9h00 (with Morning News in between at 8h00) are classified by CRTV as ‘talk shows’. Hello is the English edition, broadcast Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Bonjour the French one, broadcast Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Other talk shows are the Monday Show (Mondays 18h30–19h30), the Vendredi Show (Fridays 18h30–19h30) and a law programme Débat: Droit en Clair (Fridays 21h00–22h30). All in all talk shows accounted for 15.5 per cent of the airtime during the week monitored. Documentaries are a prominent format on CRTV, making up for 19 per cent of airtime. Mondays to Wednesdays and Fridays from 17h30 to 18h00 the station offers cultural documentaries from the various regions (Documentaire Regionale), and other locally produced 30-minute feature programmes are broadcast every weekday morning. Comedies and serials (a total of 13.5 per cent) are also a major genre. Local dramas in French are broadcast Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays from 11h30 to 12h00, Tuesdays from 12h30 to 13h00, Wednesdays from 21h00 to 22h00 and 23h00 to 23h30, and Thursdays from 19h00 to 19h30. English language serials can be watched on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 9h30 to 10h00, Wednesdays from 10h30 to 11h30, Tuesdays from 19h00 to 19h30 and Sundays from 17h30 to 18h30. Foreign serials are

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mostly imported from Latin America (telenovelas) and screened daily from 20h00 to 20h30, as well as from 22h00 to 23h00 on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 12h30 to 13h00 on Thursdays. Movies (4.8 per cent) are shown on Sundays only – between 15h30 and 17h30 (sometimes these are local productions) and between 22h00 and 24h00, when mainly North American and European feature films are being aired. On Sundays from 13h00 to 15h00 CRTV broadcasts one of its most popular offerings: the bilingual Tam Tam Weekend, a cultural variety magazine programme. Another example of locally produced cultural programmes (which make up 1.2 per cent of overall weekly airtime) is Culturama, shown on Saturdays from 18h30 to 19h00. Among the special interest and educational programmes (1.2 per cent) are You and the Law/Point de Droit, a programme on legal issues in Cameroon (Sundays 12h30– 13h00), Magazine Santé Healthy Living, a programme sponsored by the Ministry of Public Health and one of the most popular offerings of CRTV (Wednesdays 18h30– 19h00), Magazine Culinaire: Delices (a cooking show) broadcast Mondays from 9h00 to 9h30, and Economic Forum (Thursdays 18h30 to 19h00). Music shows (6.8 per cent) include Clips Box (daily 15h00–15h30), Sound and Rhythm of Cameroon (Saturdays 6h30–7h00) and C’la Fete, a Saturday night show from 21h00 to 23h00. Children are the target group for Dessins Animés (cartoons) Mondays to Fridays from 16h30 to 17h00, Saturdays 7h00 to 7h30 and Sundays 7h30 to 8h00, as well as for the Kids Show (Saturdays 7h30–8h00) and Enfants (Saturdays 14h30–15h00). This genre accounts for 3.6 per cent of airtime. Youth programmes receive 2.7 per cent: Jeunesse Parlons (‘Youth Talks’) offered Thursdays 15h30 to 16h00, Magazine Jeunesse (‘Youth Magazine’) on Saturdays from 15h30 to 16h30, and the entertainment show Delire (‘Delirium’) on Saturdays from 10h00 to 11h00. A popular example of programming for women (1.6 per cent) is Planète Femmes, a magazine about emancipating rural women with a focus on gender equality, education and agriculture, broadcast on Saturdays from 16h30 to 17h30. Comparatively little space is given over to sports, at 4 per cent of overall airtime. Sports programmes are Fou Fou Foot (Tuesdays 17h00–18h00), Sports Parade (Wednesdays 17h00–18h00) and Sports Vision (Saturdays 11h00 –12h00). Finally, faith programmes take up 2.7 per cent of the weekly airtime. These are Connaissance de L’islam, an hour’s presentation of Friday Muslim prayers, and services for Catholics and Protestants on Sundays from 10h00 to 12h00. During the week monitored CRTV Television gave little attention to programming designed to promote human rights, civic education and life skills, or dealing with

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issues of the economy, health, gender, agriculture, nutrition, the environment or consumer protection. Spectrum Television (STV) During the week monitored STV broadcast 72.4 per cent of its programmes in French, 14.6 per cent in English, and 13 per cent were bilingual. The bulk of programming was local, with 72.4 per cent being STV’s own productions while 27.6 per cent were foreign. New bulletins made up 13.1 per cent of overall airtime during the week monitored. Newscasts in both French and English are broadcast Mondays to Saturdays from 12h30 to 13h00 (repeated Mondays and Tuesdays at 00h00 and Saturdays at 23h30), in English Mondays to Fridays 19h00 to 19h30 (repeated Tuesdays to Fridays 8h30–9h00), and in French Mondays to Fridays 21h00–21h30 (repeated Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays 9h30). A large part of STV’s programming (30.2 per cent) is dedicated to current affairs, magazines and talk shows. Among these programmes are the breakfast show, Good Morning Cameroon, Mondays to Fridays 6h30 to 8h30; 7 Hebdo, a magazine that reviews the main political events of the week on Sundays 12h00 to 13h30; a news magazine, STV Mag, broadcast Sunday evenings; Entretien Avec, a face-to-face interview profiling important personalities from all walks of life, broadcast Thursdays 22h00 to 24h00; and Cartes sur Table, a debate on major political, social or economic issues of the week, Tuesdays 22h00 to 24h00. Toi et Moi, Entre Nous, Rendezvous Deecalee are live phone-in programmes that allow the audience to participate. Documentaries feature rarely (at 0.7 per cent overall). The only documentaries broadcast during the week monitored were foreign productions. Comedies and serials account for 9.1 per cent of airtime overall. They include the locally produced soap opera Kongossa Bar (Mondays 11h00–11h30, 15h00–15h30 and 20h30–21h00; Tuesdays 20h30–21.00; Wednesdays 19h50–20h00; Thursdays 13h30– 14h00 and 19h50–20h00; Saturdays 13h30–14h00) and the Latin American telenovela Nunca te Dire Adios (Mondays to Fridays 19h30–19h50). Nigerian movies (3.1 per cent) are shown on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 13h30 and 15h30. Cultural programmes (6.4 per cent) are Magic Time, Wicked Tracks, Night Fiesta and Kamer Style, all of these entertainment shows featuring local musicians, as well as Kultura, a cultural magazine. Music shows (16.3 per cent overall) and the daily game show Decrochez la Table from 17h00 to 18h00 (weekly airtime 4.1 per cent) feature prominently in STV’s programme schedule.

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Children’s and youth programmes account for 4 per cent of total airtime. Programmes include Les Bourgeons, RDV D’Callee (an educational programme Fridays 17h00 to 18h00) and Dance Floor – featuring games for kids and other competitions like dancing and quizzes. Le Journal des Enfants is a news show for children, coordinated by children. Sports programmes (7 per cent of weekly airtime) are On the Ball, an English language programme on Thursdays where football events of the week are analysed by soccer experts, and La Nuit de Sport, a French language show on Wednesdays from 22h00 to 24h00 on topical sports issues of the week. During the week monitored, STV – much like CRTV – gave little attention to public interest programming dealing with life skills, the economy, health, gender, agriculture, nutrition, the environment or consumer protection. The station performed better than the state broadcaster, though, in regard to human rights and civic education. Rating of state and commercial television70 An audience research survey conducted during May and June 2009 71 sought to measure the levels of viewer satisfaction with the content offered on both CRTV and commercial television stations. It asked respondents to indicate whether the content was considered ‘adequate’ on a five-to-one point agree/disagree scale, with the highest possible score being 5.0. Table 3 shows that commercial television stations rated slightly higher than the state television broadcaster. The more significant differences were found with regard to local, regional and international news – precisely the area which constitutes the core mandate of a national broadcaster which calls itself ‘public’. Both sectors scored poorly in regard to the promotion of local drama and the reflection of local cultures. When it comes to the perception of the diversity of television programmes the differences between state and commercial television are more marked – with the commercial sector scoring higher in all regards. The state television broadcaster clearly needs to extend the scope of its programming if it is to keep up with the competition. Both sectors scored low in regard to the promotion of local cultures and local drama – not surprisingly so, given the little airtime dedicated to these genres.

70 Note that this comparison refers to the perception of all commercial television stations and not only STV. 71 Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009.

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Table 3: Level of viewer satisfaction with content of television programmes
index Provide information that is educative Provide adequate local news that is relevant for my information needs Provide adequate international news relevant to my needs Promote local drama Promote local music Provide news from all parts of the country, including rural areas Reflect local cultures and way of life rating for crtv television 3.84 3.66 3.29 2.53 3.43 3.48 2.88 rating for commercial tv stations 4.15 4.05 3.87 2.85 3.60 3.91 3.20

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

Table 4: Level of viewer satisfaction with diversity of television programmes
index Provide enough programmes in local languages understood by the audience Offer entertainment for all kinds of people Provide programmes not only for the general public but also for minority audiences Provide adequate programmes to cater for children Offer a wide variety of programmes rating for crtv television 2.88 3.11 3.12 rating for commercial tv stations 3.37 3.65 3.49

3.23 3.18

3.64 3.68

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

2.2 radio
CRTV Radio (national) During the week monitored (6 to 12 April 2009) the national radio station of CRTV, based in Yaoundé, broadcast 62 per cent of its programmes in French and 33.4 in English, while 4.6 per cent were bilingual. Unlike what was observed in the case of CRTV television, this corresponds with the proportional language distribution in Cameroon given that English is spoken by about 20 per cent of the population. Indigenous languages are used only by the regional stations. The 2009 CRTV Radio programme guide of the national station in Yaoundé indicated that all programmes from 6h00 to midnight were local productions.

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News and current affairs programmes between them account for more than one third (36.6 per cent) of total airtime during the week monitored – making CRTV Radio the information leader in Cameroon. The bulk of these programmes (22.9 per cent of airtime) are 5- to 15-minute news bulletins, broadcast at 6h00 (French), 6h30 (English), 7h00 (French), 7h30 (English), 8h00 (French), 8h30 (French), 13h00 (French), 15h00 (English), 17h00 (French), 19h00 (English), 20h00 (French), 22h00 (English), and 24h00 (French). Current affairs programmes make up the remaining 13.7 per cent. The most prominent among them is Morning Safari, a breakfast show broadcast live from Monday to Thursday from 5h10 to 6h30, which hosts experts, politicians and leaders of civil society organisations to discuss major topics selected by the producers and presenters. Listeners are invited to participate by phoning in. Cameroon Calling (Sundays 7h00– 8h30, rebroadcast Mondays 21h30–23h00) and Dimanche Midi (Sundays 12h00–14h00) offer in-depth analysis of the important news events of the week (during the week monitored these included a range of topics such as corruption, unemployment, national integration, economic development and politics). Experts give their opinions through recorded interviews and listeners can participate by sending e-mails and letters. Other current affairs programmes are News Focus (Mondays to Fridays 15h10–15h30) and Cameroon Magazine (Mondays to Fridays 11h30–12h00 and 13h30–14h00). Other public interest programmes (6.4 per cent) are Canal Police, an educational programme highlighting the functions and responsibilities of the Cameroonian police force in the protection of citizens and the maintenance of peace, and Luncheon Date (Mondays to Fridays 14h05–15h00 and 15h30–16h05) which features more lighthearted news from the ten regions as well as commercial and death announcements. Talk shows on human interest and lifestyle topics make up for 8.3 per cent of weekly airtime and those on political and other societal issues for 4.3 per cent. Music shows (special interest music – 4.2 per cent; and popular music – 3.6 per cent) are CRTV Top Ten, Weekend Express, Music of the Masters, Sunday Evening Request, Podium Star and Brunch Time Show. Other shows, typically a mix of music, games, talk and information, make up 4.4 per cent and quiz shows 1 per cent of weekly airtime. Special interest and educational programmes (12.4 per cent) are Equal Voices, Your Window to the World, Secours Santé, Let’s Talk Health, Literary Forum, Ressources et Développement, Panoramic, Education Time, Job Market, Wildlife Conservation, Enviromonde, SOS Docteur, Vision Sociale, and Economic Diary. Cultural programmes such as Espace Politique Culturama, Radioscopie d’un Artiste and Role Models in Cameroon get 1.9 per cent of airtime, and a further 1.9 per cent is dedicated to radio dramas, for example La Plantaine de Papa.

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Youth programmes (1.4 per cent overall) are Fréquences Jeunes, Campus Magazine Tremplin and Jeunesse à la Une, while Woman to Woman, Calling the Women, Entres nous Mesdames, Conditioné Feminine, and Family Matters target women listeners specifically (2.5 per cent of airtime). 5.1 per cent of airtime is dedicated to the coverage of sports. Faith programmes (6 per cent) are mostly featured on Sundays: Meditation Time, Eglise et Développement, Informations Catholique and Catholic Echoes. CRTV radio’s website72 carries special links to podcasts on the activities of the President and the government. Radio Tiemeni Siantou (RTS) RTS is a privately owned 24-hour FM station. During the week monitored approximately 92 per cent of its programming was in French, with English news bulletins and a few bilingual programmes making up the remaining 8 per cent. The predominance of French is explained by the fact that Radio Siantou is based in Yaoundé, the political capital of Cameroon, which is largely French-speaking. Most of Radio Siantou’s programmes were local productions, save for a daily onehour relay of Radio Canada International programmes from 3h00 to 4h00. News bulletins make up only 4.2 per cent of airtime and are carried Mondays to Fridays from 7h00 to 7h30 in French, 12h00 to 12h30 in both French and English and 14h00 to 14h15 in English. News briefs are broadcast at 8h00, 9h00, 15h00, 16h00 and 17h00. Current affairs programmes (5 per cent) such as RTS Midi Magazine and Zap Presse are broadcast live on Saturdays from 12h00 to 12h52 and Sundays from 10h00 to 11h52. Most of RTS’s programming is in the form of variety shows such as, amongst others, special interest music shows (13.6 per cent), talk shows (19.1 per cent), shows with a mix of music, talk, games and information (7 per cent), youth shows (7 per cent) and popular music shows (7 per cent). Rating of state and commercial radio 73 The audience research survey referred to above also asked radio listeners to rate their satisfaction with the content offered on both CRTV and commercial radio stations on a five-to-one point scale. Table 5 shows that listeners in Cameroon are equally satisfied with the content of radio stations in both sectors, state and commercial. The only difference is in regard
72 www.crtv.cm. 73 Note that this comparison refers to the perception of all state and commercial radio stations and not only CRTV Radio and RTS.

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to the provision of news from all parts of the country where the rating for commercial radio stations is much higher. Table 5:
index Provide information that is educative Provide adequate local news that is relevant for my information needs Provide adequate international news relevant to my needs Promote local drama Promote local music Provide news from all parts of the country, including rural areas Reflect local cultures and way of life

Level of listener satisfaction with radio content
rating for crtv radio 3.89 3.67 3.46 2.55 3.52 2.84 2.90 rating for commercial radio stations 4.00 3.83 3.45 2.77 3.61 3.61 2.99

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

With regard to the diversity of material aired, respondents credited commercial radio stations with offering a wider variety of programmes. Commercial radio also scored significantly higher on the index ‘offer entertainment for all kinds of people’ – an indictment of the state broadcaster, which purports to be serving the ‘public’ in general, i.e. ‘all kinds of people’. Table 6: Level of listener satisfaction with diversity of radio programmes
index Provide enough programmes in local languages understood by the audience Offer entertainment for all kinds of people Provide programmes not only for the general public but also for minority audiences Provide adequate programmes to cater for children Offer a wide variety of programmes rating for crtv radio 2.99 2.83 2.94 rating for commercial radio stations 3.19 3.44 3.25

3.16 3.11

3.30 3.52

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

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3

News and current affairs

3.1 television
News bulletins were monitored on CRTV Television and STV from 6 to 12 April 2009. Economic news topped the list on both stations, a reflection of the fact that the data were collected during the visit of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank delegation on a mission to discuss measures to tackle the country’s financial crisis. Religious news came second, probably because the period under review was Passion Week, the week before Easter, and two weeks before the Pope paid a visit to Cameroon. There are significant differences between the state and the commercial broadcaster, though STV offered a lot more human interest stories than did CRTV Television. At the same time, and somewhat surprisingly, STV covered more political and fewer sports events than the state television station. The commercial station also featured much more international news. Table 7: Topics in news bulletins of CRTV Television and STV during week monitored
topic Economics Religion Sports Politics Education Civil society Environment Media Health Security Culture Human interest International news
source: Own research

crtv television (%) 27.7 16.5 11.5 9.7 6.1 5.8 5.0 5.0 3.6 3.2 2.5 2.2 1.2

stv (%) 21.0 8.6 6.7 15.2 4.8 5.0 4.8 0.7 2.0 2.9 7.6 13.1 7.6

Most of the sound bites used by CRTV were from government officials and administrators associated with the state either at the central or regional levels. Sound bites of members of the ruling political party, the CPDM, were generally fairly long (about two minutes and 20 seconds on average), while those of members of the opposition parties were much shorter (less than a minute on average). In terms of who

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else got to be heard in the news, private individuals (11.5 per cent) featured most often, followed by experts (9.5 per cent), civil society members (4 per cent), trade unionists (3.7 per cent), and people from the corporate world (3.4 per cent). In 2008, the panel of the African Media Barometer (AMB) Cameroon, made up of representatives of media and civil society, observed that the coverage of politics on CRTV was neither fair nor balanced, with the President of the Republic, the speaker of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister and ministers given special attention: ‘In fact, there are special coverage teams assigned to the Presidency, National Assembly and the Prime Minister’s office. … CRTV’s economic journalists praise every decision taken by the government. The same holds for issues on governance and the rule of law.’74 This critical assessment is also reflected in the 2009 audience survey when respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction with the impartiality and credibility of both CRTV and commercial television stations on a (maximum) five to (minimum) one point scale.75 Table 8: Level of viewer satisfaction with impartiality and credibility of TV stations
index Provide accurate information that I trust and believe Are impartial in news and current affairs, that is, they do not take sides rating for crtv 3.16 3.04 rating for commercial tv stations 3.65 3.58

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

3.2 radio
As was the case with CRTV Television, CRTV Radio news broadcasts were also dominated by stories on the economy (20.2 per cent), religion (13.2 per cent) and sports (11.6 per cent). The radio station, though, gave international news (10.7 per cent) significantly more attention than its television counterpart. News on Radio Tiemeni Siantou during the week monitored showed a different kind of news judgement. While economic stories also dominated the bulletins (21 per cent), political (18.5 per cent), human interest (14.8 per cent) and international news (12.3 per cent) featured quite prominently as well and stories on religion played a minor role (3.7 per cent). Being a state broadcaster, CRTV Radio generally does not cover views that contradict or are critical of government policies. This means that people such as opposition
74 African Media Barometer (AMB), Cameroon Report 2008, Windhoek 2008. 75 Note that, again, this comparison refers to the perception of all commercial television stations and not only STV.

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parliamentarians and trade unionists are rarely interviewed or used as sources. The private radio station, on the other hand, provides – almost exclusively – the alternative views to those expressed on the state radio. Listeners interviewed for the audience research survey, not surprisingly, gave the state and the commercial radio stations almost equal – and fairly low – scores for impartiality and credibility: Table 9: Level of listener satisfaction with impartiality and credibility of radio stations
index Provide accurate information that I trust and believe Are impartial in news and current affairs, that is, they do not take sides ratings for crtv radio 3.30 3.28 ratings for commercial radio stations 3.28 3.08

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

When respondents were asked to rate the various media for their trustworthiness on a scale of one (‘no trust at all’) to five (‘complete trust’), the differences were obvious. Table 10: Rating of media on trustworthiness
5 = complete trust (%) Internet Private/commercial television Private newspapers Private/commercial radio State/public radio Community radio State/public television Government owned newspapers 36 25 24 19 17 16 15 14 4 = have some trust (%) 20 30 26 27 19 18 18 14 5 and 4 total 56 55 50 46 36 34 33 28

Source: The Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009

The top marks for ‘complete trust’ in the internet are a little baffling in a country where the majority of the population has never used this medium and may be due precisely to the unfamiliarity with this new and much touted technology rather than anything else. The difference between the trust rates scored by commercial (55 per cent) and state television (33 per cent), on the other hand, is significant and a serious indictment of CRTV. The same applies, to a lesser extent, to the unfavourable comparison between commercial radio (46 per cent) and state radio (36 per cent).

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4 Conclusions and recommendations
CRTV – both Radio and Television – are not trusted by the majority of the population. Both TV stations examined for this study – CRTV and Spectrum Television – offer a large amount of local content: 70.5 and 72.4 per cent respectively. English language programmes are underrepresented on both channels. There are no programmes in indigenous languages. The reason given for this is Cameroon’s ethnic diversity, with the population made up of about 250 ethnic groups. Even when local languages are used, they are translated into either French or English. News, current affairs, documentaries and talk shows are commendably prominent in the programming of both broadcasters – 57.9 per cent on CRTV and 44 per cent on STV (which flights very few documentaries for obvious financial reasons). The relatively large number of such programmes on CRTV, however, comes at the expense of entertainment – perhaps one of the reasons why respondents interviewed for the audience research survey were less satisfied with the offerings of state television compared to those of the commercial competition. Another likely reason for their dissatisfaction is the finding that the state broadcaster scores lower than the commercial channels in the amount of local, regional and international news carried – an area which should be the core mandate of a national broadcaster which calls itself ‘public’. The radio stations monitored for this study – CRTV Radio and Radio Tiemeni Siantou – show vast differences in their programme schedules. News, current affairs and other public interest programming make up 47.3 per cent of the offerings of CRTV Radio but only 9.2 per cent in the case of RTS – leaving much more room for less weighty, easy listening content typical of the format of a commercial radio station. This explains RTS’s significantly higher score on the index ‘offer entertainment for all kinds of people’. On CRTV Radio the youth, in particular, seem to be underserved with only 1.4 per cent of its programming targeted at this age group which makes up the majority of Cameroon’s population. On CRTV in general, most views regarded as critical of and detrimental to the image of the government are not aired. This means that the state broadcaster does not respect freedom of expression, does not promote the free flow of information and ideas, and does not assist citizens to make informed decisions. These serious shortcomings are reflected in the poor marks scored by CRTV when it comes to perceptions of credibility. The fact that radio in general – both state and commercial – is judged poorly when it comes to credibility should be a point of concern for the sector as a whole.

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recommendations
New legislation for CRTV as suggested in chapters 6 and 7 is a pre-condition for any meaningful und sustained improvement of CRTV programming and for the broadcaster to gain trust and credibility with its audiences. In the interim it is recommended that a number of immediate steps be taken. These should include: • Undertaking a comprehensive audience research study; • Initiating a national debate with all stakeholders on the inclusion of the major local languages in the programming of CRTV Television; • Increasing the proportion of English language programming on CRTV Television and Radio to bring it in line with the ratio of English/French language-use in the overall population; • Reviewing all CRTV television and national radio programming schedules with the objective to: – offer greater diversity of programming; – make the services more attractive to a younger audience not only by increasing the offerings for children and youth but also by modernising the style of scheduling and packaging; and – introduce a local content quota for music; • Extending transmission of FM radio stations to 24 hours.

9
Broadcasting Reform Efforts

Broadcasting reforms – like many other reforms in Cameroon – seem to be undertaken only hesitantly, more often than not in response to pressure, a phenomenon which was aptly termed ‘the politics of non-reform’ as early as 1990.76 Radio broadcasting was originally the responsibility of a government department. After the introduction of television a presidential decree of 1986 created Cameroon Television. It was only after a strike by radio journalists over radio broadcasting being left out of the new organisational structure that the government issued an ordinance in 1987 which incorporated both arms of broadcasting and created Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), the state broadcaster. In practical terms, however, the change-over from department to corporation turned out to be not much more than a change in terminology: CRTV is still being run as a government entity under the strict control of government. In 1990, a series of civil society demonstrations pressing for democratic government led to the passing of the Liberty Laws in December of that year and the re-introduction of multi-party politics. On this occasion the government also announced its intention to open up the airwaves and thus end CRTV’s monopoly on broadcasting. A year later the National Communications Council was created by decree. The Commission was tasked – among other things – with the responsibility to ‘report to the government on licence applications by private audiovisual communication companies’. However, it took no less than nine years before Prime Ministerial Decree of 3 April 2000 laid down the current regulatory framework for private audiovisual communication, thus ending (on paper) the state’s monopoly on broadcasting. It is worth mentioning that this decree was issued a month before a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group which was to assess progress in democratic governance: ‘The change, ten years after it was first promised, comes as part of the Cameroon government’s
76 N. van de Walle, ‘The politics of non-reform in Cameroon’, in African Governance in the 1990s: Objectives, Resources and Constraints, Atlanta, Georgia: The Carter Center of Emory University, 1990.

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recent public relations offensive, aimed at improving international perceptions of its human rights situation’.77Another seven years passed before the government indeed went ahead and issued the first official licences on 30 August 2007. Some stations such as TV Max and Canal 2 had gone on air before the official authorisation with ‘test broadcasts’. Regulatory provisions in place and the way they are being applied, however, indicate that the government still does not fully embrace the concept of freedom of the airwaves. A government committee takes the final decision on applications for licences. Licence fees payable before the start of operations are prohibitively high. Radio and television stations are frequently banned. There is no public debate on this unsatisfactory state of affairs and no major effort has been undertaken by any of the players or civil society as a whole to overhaul legislation for broadcasting in general or for CRTV in particular that would make it compliant with international and African standards as expressed in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. There are several reasons for this state of affairs: • There is a certain amount of complacency and reluctance to act on the part of all political forces in the country. Government officials seem to enjoy the special coverage and protection given to them by the state broadcaster. Other political actors may and do complain openly about this favouritism, but are then happy to use private media to get across their messages even though they have to pay for airtime. • In the Cameroonian context, the main drivers for reforms are international bodies such as the European Union and the Commonwealth. Media and broadcasting reforms, however, are not high on their agenda. • Non-governmental organisations like the Cameroon Union of Journalists (CUJ) and other media bodies seem to be content with navigating their way within the existing frameworks and do not take any particular interest in the underlying issues. • Commercial broadcasters are trying to survive as best they can. Many operate without a licence and do not want to rock the legal and political boat. • CRTV as a state broadcaster is obviously not in a position to initiate reform from within itself.

77 Advocacy group Article 19 press release Cameroon Broadcasting Decree is False Dawn not Real Reform, 17 April 2000, quoted from www.ifex.org/cameroon/2000/04/17.

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If the audience research survey78 is to be believed, Cameroonian citizens want a truly public broadcaster. Eighty-three per cent of respondents, irrespective of gender and age, expressed the view that a public broadcaster has a particular responsibility towards the public quite unlike its private or commercial broadcasting counterparts. Respondents deemed some of these responsibilities to be ‘extremely or very important’: offering a wide range of information and ideas (84 per cent), offering entertainment programmes of high quality (80 per cent), promoting national unity (79 per cent), contributing to economic and social development (77 per cent), holding those in power accountable (72 per cent), and providing an open forum for debate on issues of public interest (68 per cent).

recommendations
As the current framework for media in general is more than twenty years old there is an urgent need to call a general forum of all stakeholders in the media and communications sector to: • Review existing legislation and regulation on the basis of this report and initiate media reforms; and • Establish a working group to implement the recommendations and monitor progress. For any change to happen in the broadcasting sector in Cameroon, the following steps should be undertaken: • Civil society groups should organise workshops to promote a better understanding of the principles of broadcasting in a democratic society, both within their own ranks as well as in broader society, followed by activities to familiarise citizens with these principles and create awareness of the role of public broadcasting in particular. • A broad coalition should be formed to drive the process towards transforming CRTV into a public broadcaster. • This coalition should stage a campaign to spread the message that CRTV is a public asset meant to serve the public and be controlled by the public, not by government.

78 Steadman Group, Audience Research Survey, Final Report Cameroon, Kampala 2009.

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• The coalition should develop model policies for a new CRTV in the areas of ownership, governance and funding. These should be discussed in a broadbased and extensive public consultation process. • The coalition should then stage a campaign to have the current decree on CRTV revoked and replaced by new legislation which would establish an independent public broadcaster with an independent board representative of Cameroonian society.

10
Overall Conclusions and Recommendations

The authorities in Cameroon seem to regard the media, and independent media in particular, not as a vital pillar of a democratic state but rather as a potential threat to be hedged in and guarded against. The regulatory framework is restrictive rather than enabling. It does not encourage the development of a vibrant media environment and in many respects runs counter to international and African standards such as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa 2002. The requirement to license publications (coupled with the payment of a hefty fee) may not always be strictly policed, but serves to drive some media houses into illegality. The obligation to deposit a copy of each and every issue with the relevant legal departments and administrative authorities prior to distribution amounts to indirect censorship. The authority given to the Minister of Territorial Administration and Decentralisation and to local administrators to ban, seize and confiscate a publication is a further impediment and serious threat to a free media. The provision that only journalists carrying a press card issued by the Prime Minister’s Office will be acknowledged as such is a severe infringement of the right to freedom of expression, as is the fact that a code of ethics has been imposed upon journalists by decree. Broadcasting regulation is not the responsibility of an independent body, as the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression stipulates, but firmly under the control of the government. The Minister of Communication in collaboration with the National Communications Council (NCC) is in charge of both regulation and licensing of operators. The NCC is merely an advisory body under the authority of the Prime Minister who has the last word on all decisions. The council’s members are appointed by decree and most of them, including the chairperson, are pro-government individuals.

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Against all these odds, the development of both the commercial and the community broadcasting sector in Cameroon has been impressive and there is a considerable amount of diversity in the industry. In addition to the state broadcaster operating one TV channel, ten regional/local radio stations and ten commercial FM radio stations, there are six privately owned national and local TV stations, at least 80 private radio stations and quite a number of rural, religious and university radio stations. The independence of small rural and community radio stations from government interference, however, is not properly guaranteed and the proliferation of religiousbased radio stations could be a point of concern. Community radio stations are not actively promoted by the state in any way. In terms of reach and impact, Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV) is still the dominant player in the broadcasting landscape. CRTV is a state broadcaster – in law, in policy and in practice. Although it was set up to be a public broadcaster, the fact that its board is appointed by the head of state and chaired by the Minister of Communication, with its entire top management appointed directly by the government, clearly makes it a state broadcaster. The civil service structure of CRTV imposes a lot of constraints on staff, leaves little if any room for editorial independence, and affects the production of programmes. In all material respects CRTV thus contravenes the principles espoused in the 2002 Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa. Because the organisation is – and is perceived to be – a government information tool, CRTV channels, both radio and television, are not trusted by the majority of the population. People are aware that only carefully selected information is disseminated and that most views regarded as critical and detrimental to the image of the government are not aired. In so doing the state broadcaster does not respect freedom of expression, does not promote the free flow of information and ideas, and does not assist citizens to make informed decisions. Private and community broadcasters attempt to provide some counterweight to the way events and developments are being portrayed on CRTV but can only partially make up for the state broadcaster’s deficiencies due to existing legal constraints, their limited resources or a bias of their own. TV stations examined for this study – CRTV and Spectrum Television – offer a large amount of local content but English language programmes are underrepresented in both channels. There are no programmes in indigenous languages. The reason given for this is Cameroon’s ethnic diversity, with the population made up of about 250 ethnic groups. Even when local languages are used, they are translated into either French or English. News, current affairs, documentaries and talk shows are commendably prominent in the programming of both broadcasters.

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The radio stations monitored for this study – CRTV Radio and Radio Tiemeni Siantou – show vast differences in their programme schedules. News, current affairs and other public interest programming make up 47.3 per cent of the offerings of CRTV Radio but only 9.2 per cent in the case of RTS – leaving much more room for less weighty, easy listening content typical of the format of a commercial radio station. Audience research shows that most Cameroonian citizens want a truly public broadcaster. Eighty-three per cent of respondents, irrespective of gender and age, expressed the view that a public broadcaster has a particular responsibility towards the public quite unlike its private or commercial broadcasting counterparts. At present, though, there is little likelihood of such widely held views leading to any concrete change. There is no climate for reforms in the country. Broadcasting reforms seem to be undertaken only hesitantly, more often than not in response to some kind of pressure, for example through strikes by journalists or influence brought to bear by the international community. There is no public debate on this unsatisfactory state of affairs and no major effort has been undertaken by any of the players or civil society as a whole to overhaul legislation for media and broadcasting in general or for CRTV in particular that would make it compliant with the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa.

Recommendations
Media legislation and regulation
• The Law on Freedom of Mass Communication needs to be repealed and replaced by legislation that conforms with the constitution of Cameroon, which guarantees freedom of expression and the press, as well as with international and African standards such as the Declaration on Freedom of Expression. Some of the main changes to be made are the following: – There must be no registration of publications by state authorities. Media houses, like any other company, should have to comply only with the relevant company law. – There must be no obligation to deposit copies of publications with state authorities prior to publication. The need for all copies of all publications to be deposited with the National Archives and the benefit of such extensive archivation should be assessed realistically.

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• •

• •

There must be no provision that allows state authorities to ban, seize or confiscate publications. Such confiscation, if any, must be authorised by a court of law and only be possible for very limited and specified reasons, for example propaganda for war. – There must be no legal provision that allows individuals aggrieved by a certain publication to ask for the seizure of the issue in question by the authorities. Those, including the state, who might be offended by certain content can seek redress by approaching a voluntary self-regulatory body set up by the media or by lodging civil cases of libel or defamation in the courts of law. – There must be no right for state authorities to search premises of media houses without a warrant issued by a judge. Media lobby groups such as the Cameroon Union of Journalists (CUJ) should urgently initiate a process of legal reform by establishing a Task Group to further analyse the Law on Freedom of Mass Communications and develop new legislation. The restriction on ownership in sections 25 to 29 of the Law on Freedom of Mass Communication, which bars media houses from publishing more than three titles, should be reviewed considering economic realities and the need for cost-effective production. The provisions on defamation and contempt of court in the Penal Code need to be reviewed. Media groups together with representatives of civil society should develop a code of professional standards for journalists independently of the state and demand that Decree No. 92/313/PM of 1992, which imposed such a code, be repealed. The media industry should strengthen the Cameroon Media Council as an independent body by, among others, financing it themselves rather than relying on the Ministry of Communication for funding. Press cards should be issued by media associations and media houses themselves, not by state authorities. Access to information legislation should be initiated following the guidelines set by the Declaration on Freedom of Expression: – everyone has the right to access information held by public bodies; – everyone has the right to access information held by private bodies which is necessary for the exercise or protection of any right;

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– –

any refusal to disclose information shall be subject to appeal to an independent body and/or the courts; public bodies shall be required, even in the absence of a request, actively to publish important information of significant public interest; no one shall be subject to any sanction for releasing in good faith information on wrongdoing, or that which would disclose a serious threat to health, safety or the environment save where the imposition of sanctions serves a legitimate interest and is necessary in a democratic society; and secrecy laws shall be amended as necessary to comply with freedom of information principles.

broadcasting landscape
Cameroon should develop a broadcasting policy with the following objectives to: • Introduce a coherent three-tier system (public, commercial and community) with precise definitions of the various sectors and concrete measures to promote them; • Create a Media Diversity Agency that should support and encourage the creation of community and other small local broadcasting stations and be funded by contributions from the media industry and government; • Guarantee the independence of community broadcasting from political and financial pressures; • Review the legislation on cross-media ownership considering the need to create a sustainable media industry in a resource-poor economy.

digitalisation
• Government should be urged to: – develop a detailed roadmap, based on a clear legal framework, towards the deadline of 2020 in consultation with all stakeholders: broadcasters, signal distributors and consumers in particular; – step up public awareness of the digital migration process and what it entails;

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develop a suitable subsidy scheme for set-top boxes (STBs) to avoid the risk of vulnerable communities being permanently switched off due to the unaffordability of such devices, and set suitable specifications for imported STBs and waive import duties on these devices; – devise measures to ensure that importers offer television sets that are digital ready, i.e. capable of receiving signals without additional STBs, to prevent people from investing unnecessarily in equipment that will soon be obsolete; – ensure protection for vulnerable media such as small television stations when setting fees payable to the signal distributor; – consider zero-rating tax on digital broadcasting equipment to enable broadcasting houses to purchase more digital equipment (this facility could be granted for a limited period); • The media industry and other stakeholders should prepare themselves for the development of a new licensing regime for television and develop suitable models.

broadcasting legislation and regulation
• Government and Parliament should be urged to develop and pass a new law on broadcasting regulation following these principles: – The National Communications Council (NCC) should be independent of the government, political parties and media owners. – The NCC should be responsible for the regulation of all broadcasting (privately and state owned). Production houses do not fall within the remit of such a commission. – Members of the NCC should be appointed by parliament in a transparent process with the involvement of civil society and other specific constituencies from which members are drawn. Such members should be persons with integrity, committed to freedom of expression and have specialised skills needed on the council. Office bearers with government and political parties as well as people with financial interests in the industry should be disqualified from membership.

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To simplify and harmonise the process of licensing, the council should be vested with full regulatory powers, including the power to process applications and grant licences. – The council should be accountable to the public through Parliament. – It should be funded through direct budgetary allocation from Parliament on the basis of a proposal by the NCC as well as from a share of radio/TV set licence fees set by law. – Clear criteria and procedures for licensing, agreed upon in consultation with stakeholders, should be advertised by the council. Time limits should be set for the process, explanations should be supplied to unsuccessful applicants, and there should be provision for appeals through institutions such as the courts. – Political parties should be ineligible for obtaining a broadcasting licence. – Precise proportional stipulations of local and foreign content of broadcasters’ programming should be removed from legislation and left for the consideration of the council in consultation with stakeholders. – The complaints and sanctions process should be reviewed and make provision for an appeal mechanism. This should be done through the establishment of either a broadcasting complaints body or a dedicated, special body within the regulator, and also include the possibility of recourse to the courts. – This legislation should be developed with the participation of stakeholders and civil society at large. • As long as there is no new legislation, the NCC should recommend to the Ministry of Communication that: – the long and arduous process of obtaining radio and television licences be simplified; – licence fees for operators be reduced to a reasonable level in order to encourage diversity in the broadcasting sector; and – the Minister of Communication should allow recourse to the rule of law, i.e. opening up the route to courts in all cases of sanctions such as the withdrawal of licences.

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crtv: legislation and organisation
• A CRTV act must be developed and passed to transform the present state broadcaster into a public broadcaster that serves the public interest and reflects all shades of socio-political opinion. The act must outline clear governing structures which shield the broadcaster from political interference and interference from other powerful forces in society that seek to influence it unduly. • CRTV should be governed by a board established and acting according to the following principles: – Appointment procedures should be open, transparent and free from political interference. – The board should represent a broad cross-section of the Cameroonian population, including representatives of civil society in general, employers, trade unions, religious and other social bodies. – Persons who are office bearers with the state or political parties or have business interests in the media industry should not be eligible for board membership. – The board’s role should be clearly set out in law and its main responsibility should be to ensure that the public broadcaster is protected against undue political or commercial influences and fulfils its mandate in the public interest. – It should not interfere in the day-to-day decision-making of the broadcaster, especially in relation to broadcast content, and respect the principle of editorial independence. • The new CRTV Act should guarantee editorial independence for CRTV. • Management and journalists at CRTV need training on the concept of public broadcasting, focusing on: – principles and values of public broadcasting, – the role of journalists and management in a public broadcaster, – challenges facing public broadcasters in the era of commercialisation and competition, and – the role of public broadcasting in the digital era. • As interim measures: – Unproductive staff should be replaced with competent professionals. – The general manager should be given the freedom to perform his duties in a professional manner.

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P U B L I C BROADCASTING IN AFRICA: CAMEROON

crtv: funding
The basic precondition for any successful reform of funding is the passing and implementation of a new CRTV Act which will transform the state into a credible public broadcaster offering quality programming designed to meet diverse audience needs. In view of the present financial status of CRTV it is recommended that: • The board commission a thorough audit of the Corporation’s financial status by an independent accounting firm; • On the basis of a new programme policy the organisational structure of CRTV be reviewed and reformed, in particular regarding administrative processes and expenses; • On the basis of the new programme policy and organisational structure, a business plan be developed which reflects the financial needs of CRTV and potential sources of revenue. CRTV should be funded through a mix of audience fees, revenues from the state budget and advertisements/sponsorships. Regarding audience fees it is recommended that: • Audience fees form the backbone of CRTV’s funding because they provide stable, predictable multi-year source of revenue and allow the broadcaster to plan and implement the necessary investment in programming and operational improvements; • Audience fees be paid by all households that pay taxes through the revenue service; • The amount of audience fees payable be fair and socially/economically justifiable; • Households in regions not covered by CRTV signals not be required to pay licence fees; • The amounts collected from this source go directly to CRTV. In regard to revenues from the state budget, it is recommended that: • An independent panel of experts determine the amount of the subsidy needed by CRTV over a three-year period to fulfill its public broadcasting mandate; • Parliament fund CRTV directly (and not through a ministry or department) on the basis of the amount determined by the panel of experts.

OVERALL CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

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Concerning advertisements and sponsorships it is recommended that: • CRTV develop clear and strict guidelines on soliciting advertisements and conditions for accepting advertisements and programme sponsorships that will safeguard the broadcaster’s editorial independence and clearly separate the responsibilities of the editorial and the marketing departments; • The new broadcasting regulator embark on a process of public consultation with the objective to set appropriate limits to advertising and sponsorship on CRTV.

Programming
New legislation for CRTV as suggested in chapters 6 and 7 is a pre-condition for any meaningful und sustained improvement of CRTV programming and for the broadcaster to gain trust and credibility with its audiences. In the interim it is recommended that a number of immediate steps be taken. These should include: • Undertaking a comprehensive audience research study; • Initiating a national debate with all stakeholders on the inclusion of the major local languages in the programming of CRTV Television; • Increasing the proportion of English language programming on CRTV Television and Radio to bring it in line with the ratio of English/French language use in the overall population; • Reviewing all CRTV television and national radio programming schedules with the objective to – offer greater diversity of programming; – make the services more attractive to a younger audience not only by increasing the offerings for children and youth but also by modernising the style of scheduling and packaging; and – introduce a local content quota for music; • Extending transmission of FM radio stations to 24 hours.

campaign for broadcasting reform
As the current framework for media in general is more than twenty years old there is an urgent need to call a general forum of all stakeholders in the media and communications sector to:

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P U B L I C BROADCASTING IN AFRICA: CAMEROON

• Review existing legislation and regulation on the basis of this report and initiate media reforms; and • Establish a working group to implement the recommendations and monitor progress. For any change to happen in the broadcasting sector in Cameroon, the following steps should be undertaken: • Civil society groups should organise workshops to promote a better understanding of the principles of broadcasting in a democratic society, both within their own ranks as well as in broader society, followed by activities to familiarise citizens with these principles and create awareness of the role of public broadcasting in particular. • A broad coalition should be formed to drive the process towards transforming CRTV into a public broadcaster. • This coalition should stage a campaign to spread the message that CRTV is a public asset meant to serve the public and be controlled by the public, not by government. • The coalition should develop model policies for a new CRTV in the areas of ownership, governance and funding. These should be discussed in a broadbased and extensive public consultation process. • The coalition should then stage a campaign to have the current decree on CRTV revoked and replaced by new legislation which would establish an independent public broadcaster with an independent board representative of Cameroonian society.

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