Journalists in Burkina Faso have accused the Roch Marc Christian Kabore led government of trying to interfere in the discharge of the professional duties of especially the public media outfits.
Their allegations come on the back of concerns relating to a “government directive” to Radio and Television of Burkina (RTB), the public broadcaster, to prioritize coverage of the Head of State, then news around the Prime Minister and his office, before that of Parliament.
In a joint statement issued in Ouagadougou on Thursday, the Burkina Association of Journalists (BAJ) and the Autonomous Trade Union of Information and Culture (SYNATIC) denounced what they said were attempts of indoctrination of the public media by the president who ascended to power in late 2015 after the overthrow of President Blaise Compaore.
We cannot want one thing and its opposite. We cannot want to get into the presidential plane and come back to denigrate the work done by the government.
Both media organizations have subsequently demanded that the Minister in charge of Communication (Remi Fulgance Dandjinou) and the government, cease their interference in the processing of information by the public media.
BAJ and SYNATIC which pools together journalists of public and private media further cited statements by the Minister of Communication and spokesman of the government, who had warned the RTB on June 17 about their line of reportage: “We cannot want one thing and its opposite. We cannot want to get into the presidential plane and come back to denigrate the work done by the government,” he is quoted to have said.
They also cited a case where the Minister of Communication, himself a former journalist had summoned public sector journalists on April 5th with the aim of training them on how to report on issues.
The RTB has been accused of bias in favor of former President Compaore’s regime, and had been the target of anti-Compaore protests during the uprising. Part of the equipment and premises were ransacked preventing television broadcasting for several days. Some of his officers had also been abused.