Many observers regard Senegal under the government of President Abdou Diouf as respectful of freedom of expression and the press. A broad spectrum of opinion is available to the public through regularly published magazines and newspapers, including foreign publications, and numerous independent radio stations. A government monopoly controls local television, an important source of news. French-owned pay television is available, but offers no local news.

Publishers must gain government approval through a registration process prior to starting publication. While the government routinely approves such registrations, laws prohibiting the press from the expression of views that "discredit" the state, incite the population to disorder, or disseminate "false news" do exist.

According to Senegalese law, the burden of proof rests with the accused in a defamation suit. This places the media in a quagmire, because building their case amounts to disclosing their sources. Journalists are convicted if they decline to provide the necessary documentation, as was the case with the defamation case against the independent daily newspaper Sud Quotidien stemming from an article published in the Oct. 13 edition, which claimed that the Mimran Corporation used fraudulent practices in its importation of sugar from Brazil.

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