The climate for the media in Senegal is one of the most tolerant in Africa. Yet the laws are written so that the burden of proof rests with the accused, placing the media in a difficult position. On February 2, the National Assembly adopted a press code which emphasizes ethics and responsibility and requires publishers to report their press runs.

The ruling in the 1996 defamation case against the independent daily newspaper Sud Quotidien, published by the Sud Communications Group, one of the leading private press groups in francophone Africa, was upheld on appeal in June, sounded a sour note for press freedom in the country.

Since the state released its hold on broadcasting a little more than three years ago, call-in radio talk shows have increased in popularity and added to the openness of Senegalese society. But the exorbitant broadcasting fees charged by the government have made it difficult for private stations to survive. In August, three stations – Sud FM, Nostalgie, and Dunya – were given a three-month suspension for nonpayment of fees ranging from CFA 20 million (US$32,000) to CFA 30 million (US$48,000). In a revolutionary move, in September, Sud FM – which owns eight radio stations – signed an agreement with Worldspace, a U.S. company founded in 1990 to provide direct satellite delivery of digital audio communications to emerging world markets.

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