- The National Council for Broadcast Communication (Conseil national de la communication audiovisuelle, CNCA) has asked the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) to suspend broadcasts on its ONUCI FM radio station until it receives express authorisation from the Ivorian Ministry of Information. The UN radio however holds it doesn't need any authorisation from Ivorian authorities.
According to Accra-based Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), ONUCI FM had already begun testing transmissions, and had launched a promotional campaign in the print and broadcast media prior to a planned official launch within short time. MFWA quotes local sources in Côte d'Ivoire.
The Broadcast Council, however, in what MFWA calls "an apparent move to pre-empt the launch," has issued two successive communiqués, informing ONUCI FM's management that the station had not been granted the licence to broadcast on the FM band in Côte d'Ivoire.
According to the Council, it had detected signals from what it referred to as a "pirate radio" station on the frequency being sought by ONUCI FM, and warned that the "perpetrators" could face legal action. The "perpetrator" referred to was the UN radio, doing its test transmissions.
Reacting to the threat, ONUCI FM spokesperson Jean Victor N'Kolo argued that the UN radio was not obliged to follow installation and broadcast procedures to which local affiliates of national radio stations are subjected. He suggested that a UN Security Council resolution, which established the UNOCI, constituted a sufficient mandate for setting up the station.
The Security Council resolution provides that UNOCI's mandate shall include the promotion of an "understanding of the peace process and the role of UNOCI among local communities and parties, through an effective public information capacity, including the establishment, as necessary, of a United Nations radio broadcasting capability."
The UNOCI argument is further strengthened by a Security Council statement of 25 May, which called on the UN "to establish its broadcast capabilities [in Côte d'Ivoire] without delay." The Security Council was concerned about growing hostility towards the UN by followers of the Abidjan-based government. Following this communiqué, the works on establishing the UN radio were redoubled.
- The government appears to be wary of ONUCI FM operations because of the exposure and airtime that might be given to the New Forces, the former rebel forces who still control most of northern Côte d'Ivoire, comments Jeannette Quarcoopome of the Media Foundation for West Africa.
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