The United Nations (UN) and France have expressed grave concern with respect to new broadcasting rules in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Under the new rules that were introduced over the weekend, international broadcasters are required to register as local firms or have their transmissions cut.
A major condition needed for foreign media companies to operate in DR Congo is with a majority of Congolese stakeholders. Reports indicated that such media had a month to conform to the new regulations.
We are concerned about the publication by the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo of a new ministerial order relating to foreign media.
The most affected broadcasters were Radio France International (RFI), the Voice of America and the BBC. RFI’s signal has been blocked for over a week now, this was after they carried a news item on a planned opposition protest due to take place earlier in the month.
A UN official who is visiting DR Congo as part of a delegation, Alexis Lamek, is quoted by AFP as saying:
“[The new decree] in no way goes in the direction of the confidence-building measures we are talking about.”
On their part, France in a terse statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said, “We are concerned about the publication by the authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo of a new ministerial order relating to foreign media.
“This decision constitutes further cause for concern following the cutting of the signals of Radio Okapi and RFI on November 5 and the arrest of two journalists in Kolwezi on November 6.
France reiterates its appeal to the Congolese authorities to respect the freedom of the press and the right to information,” the statement concluded.
Elections were due to take place in the country this month but have been delayed until April 2018. The electoral body cites the lack of a reliable register. The government went into a deal with a section of the opposition under which arrangement the opposition have to nominate the next Prime Minister.