Sanctioning Erring Journalists – No Option but to Succumb

Because the National Communication Council was recently empowered by the law, journalists need to be more responsible in their work.

The creation of the National Communication Council was to regulate the media and restore order. In the past few years, relations between the Council and some media in the country have not been the best. This is the result of numerous sanctions meted against journalists and media houses. Between 2013 and 2014, a good number of journalists were punished. This ranged from two to six-month suspensions. In the face of these measures, journalists have no option but to succumb to the sanctions. This is because they often find themselves on the weaker side of the law.

This is the case of the Publisher of the Guardian Post, Ngah Christian. He was first sanctioned on November 21, 2013, and then on September 5, 2013, for insulting CNC officials. He then wrote a petition to the National Communication Council at the time led by the late Bishop Befe Ateba. However, he got no response. The first sanction lasted two months and the second three.

Following this, the Federation of Cameroon Newspaper Publishers (FEDIPRESSE) was created with Ngah as Vice President. He said publishers of all daily newspapers met at the Le Jour newspaper’s head office in Yaounde to denounce the alleged injustice that was done to some media. They also wrote a petition to the National Communication Council, pointing out the irregularities in the sanctions against the Guardian Post and asked the NCC to revoke them. Again, the NCC did not respond. He said it was after staying out of the market for five weeks that the newspaper became a tri-weekly, the only such English language paper in the country.

When his complaint and that of FREDIPRESSE were ignored, Ngah Christian said he had no option but to ignore the NCC and wait for the suspension period to be over. Also, they did not take legal action because they did not want to waste money. He said they thought it wise to keep the money and bounce back more regularly. Another reason for not taking action, he said, was that they thought that it would be difficult to win a case against the NCC, a government institution. Also, he feared that the case would last longer than the suspension. The story is the same with other newspaper publishers such as those of Epervrier, Clovis Medjo and the Chronicle Eric Motomu in Bamenda, among others. They all complained to NCC but were allegedly ignored.

Elizabeth MOSIMA

Source : Cameroon Tribune

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