Senegalese Government shuts private radio station before launch
The Senegal Government’s tight control of media took an unexpected turn when two weeks ago a large contingent of armed soldiers burst into the 92.3 Premier FM to switch off the transmitters.
The radio station is owned by Madiambal Diagne who has long been a thorn in the flesh of Senegal’s ruling elite. He also publishes a daily, Le Quotidien and is about to launch a satirical weekly called Cocorico. There is much to be satirical about in Senegal and maybe this is what worries the Government.
Diagne’s radio station started test signals about two weeks ago but was asked to close down with the arrival of four truckloads of armed soldiers stormed the premises of Diagne’s company Avenir Communications. A staff member of Le Quotidien said:”Mr Diagne was asked to remove the station from the air but he refused asking them to do it themselves.”
Diagne explained the rather lengthy process he had undergone to try and get frequency for his station. He had first requested a frequency in November 2003. The request was denied with the explanation that Dakar’s frequencies were saturated. However, others continued to be issued with frequencies despite the so-called saturation. Finally to overcome these obstacles, Diagne bought a radio station with a pre-existing frequency licence.
It is not clear whether the Senegalese authorities will allow the radio station to resume its operations. The new station was to have been run by Michel Diouf, already well known as a founder member of Sud FM and Manager of Radio Television Senegalese (RTS).
Diagne was charged with publishing confidential reports and correspondence, false information and news “which could cause serious political problems” and as a result spent 20 days in jail in 2004. When President Wade was asked on a recent trip to Mauritania why he had deviated from his promise that his government would never send a journalist to prison, he replied:”Senegalese journalists don’t respect the law.”