Rwanda has slapped a local radio station with a Rwf2 million ($2,320) fine and a one month suspension for undermining state security and Rwandan culture.
Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) had last week recommended that the Christian-run station, Amazing Grace FM, be shut down for a period of three months for airing a controversial sermon that disparaged women.
But the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) on Wednesday ordered that the radio pays the $2,320 penalty in 15 days and closes down for a month.
Amazing Grace is hereby ordered to issue a statement of correction and apologise to the public on the message of Mr Nicholas Niyibikora within 12 hours from the time of receipt of this order and suspend all broadcasting services for 30 days following compliance.
The directive, issued by RURA director-general, Lt Col Patrick Nyirishema, said Amazing Grace FM had breached its licence by failing to “uphold national interest and security” and did not “comply with Rwandan culture, norms and value”.
“Amazing Grace is hereby ordered to issue a statement of correction and apologise to the public on the message of Mr Nicholas Niyibikora within 12 hours from the time of receipt of this order and suspend all broadcasting services for 30 days following compliance,” Nyirishema said.
BREAKING: Amazing Grace Christian Radio, closed for one month and fined Rwf 2 million. pic.twitter.com/Wlm9FLEZIP— The New Times (Rwanda) (@NewTimesRwanda) February 21, 2018
The radio station’s troubles began when it aired live Niyibikora’s 30-minute sermon in Kinyarwanda on January 29, where he called women “evil”, “prostitutes” and that they were behind all the world’s problems.
The preaching was widely condemned with the National Women’s Association and Rwanda Women Journalists’ Association filing separate complaints to the media watchdog.
At a hearing before RMC last week, the radio owner an American evangelist Greg Schoof, denounced the sermon saying due to funding constraints he had not hired a content editor for its Kinyarwanda programmes.
He pleaded against the recommended three-month suspension saying it would hurt the radio’s earnings. He said the station was currently operating on a monthly budget of about Rwf800,000 ($928).
By press time, Schoof was not available for comment on the new penalty by RURA.