World Report - Niger
|Publisher||Reporters Without Borders|
|Publication Date||October 2011|
|Cite as||Reporters Without Borders, World Report - Niger, October 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5051f2972.html [accessed 24 April 2014]|
- Area: 1,267,000 sq km
- Population: 15,878,271 (2010)
- Language: French (official)
- Head of state: Mahamadou Issoufou, since 2011
Niger's media are diverse but precarious. Media freedom violations have declined significantly since the end of Mamadou Tandja's 10-year presidency in 2010. Niger could become a regional model for good governance and respect for media freedom but the recent achievements must be consolidated first.
A military coup toppled President Mamadou Tandja on 18 February 2010, at a time when he was trying to prolong his rule by means of a constitutional amendment. The coup opened the way for a transition under the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) that ended with Mahamadou Issoufou's installation as elected president in April 2011.
Niger has about 50 weekly and monthly publications that circulate above all in the cities, about 30 radio stations, seven TV stations (two state-owned, five privately-owned) and about 120 community radio stations. Online media, on the other hand, are virtually non-existent.
The media enjoy a great deal of freedom and are fairly opinionated, but the economic environment in which they operate is very difficult. Almost no journalist has a professional contract and there is no minimum wage. The media are chronically under-funded. There is just one daily, Le Sahel, which is state-owned. Niamey nonetheless has an Institute for Training in Information and Communication Techniques (IFTIC), which trains most of the country's students. It is respected and draws students from neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso.
The latter stages of Mamadou Tandja's rule were marked by many media freedom violations. Several journalists such as Moussa Kaka, owner and director of Radio Saraounia and Radio France Internationale's Niger correspondent, had to endure spells in prison and some media, such as the Niamey-based media group Dounia and Agadez-based radio Sahara FM, were harassed and in some cases suspended by the High Council for Communication (CSC), the regulatory body.
Almost immediately after the February 2010 coup, the transitional government organized a national media conference in Niamey. One of the results was the reopening of the Niamey Press Club, which had been closed under Tandja.
Three laws were adopted in June 2010 and February 2011 decriminalizing media offences, creating a new media regulatory body and guaranteeing access to state-held information. Since their installation in April 2011, President Issoufou and his government have shown respect for the media and have publicly undertaken to defend media freedom. Issoufou has even said he would like to be a media freedom "advocate" with his African counterparts.
The situation nonetheless calls for vigilance. In the space of a year, ten complaints were filed with the Niger Independent Monitoring Centre for Media Ethics and Conduct (ONIMED) by individuals who felt they had been defamed by news media, underscoring the media's lack of professionalism. The publisher of the weekly Le Canard Déchaîné was briefly jailed in July 2011 although the June 2010 media freedom decree ended imprisonment for journalists. Some recalcitrants would like to roll back the decriminalization of media offences. Sometimes there is tension between the state and privately-owned media and in the provinces, especially Agadez, zealous local officials often prevent journalists from working freely.
Updated in October 2011