Benin’s media regulatory body, Haute Autorité de l’Audiovisuel et de la Communication (HAAC) has shut down seven media houses for breaching broadcasting regulations.
The affected media houses are six private televisions stations; E-Tele, Sikka TV, Eden TV, La Chrétienne TV, Unafrica TV, La Béninoise TV and a private radio station, Soleil FM.
In a statement issued on November 28, 2016, the HAAC said the affected media organisations breached the Organic Law of the HAAC.
According to HAAC, three of the broadcasters (Radio Soleil, E-Tele and Eden TV) were operating from a location other than where they had been permitted to operate from by the HAAC. The other media organisations on the other hand failed to sign regulatory agreements with the HAAC.
The MFWA’s correspondent in Benin reported that while many media associations acknowledge that the media hoses concerned have indeed breached the broadcasting regulations, they have criticised how the shutdown was done.
A joint press release by two media associations; Union des Professionnels des Médias du Benin (UPMB) and the Conseil National du Patronat de la Presse et de l’Audiovisuel (CNPA-Benin); said that HACC failed to give the affected media prior notice before taking the action. According to the two bodies, “HAAC failed to adhere to Article 46 of their Organic Law which mandates them to give prior notice to the media organisations before shutting them down.”
The MFWA agrees with the UPMB and CNPA-Benin that, while the HAAC acted within its mandate, the regulatory body should also have followed laid down procedures spelt out in their organic law.
MFWA urges all parties involved to use dialogue to address the issues. We also call on media houses to observe the regulations governing the sector in order to avoid conflicts and sanctions.