DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: RADIOS PERSECUTED BY GOVERNMENT AND REBELS

The article with the details and background of the arrest of the editor-in-chief of Radio Muungano appeared on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organisation based in New York
The article with the details and background of the arrest of the editor-in-chief of Radio Muungano appeared on the website of the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent organisation based in New York
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Life is hard for free voices in the Central African country, targeted by the government and rebels, who intimidate journalists reporting on the ongoing conflict in the east of the country. On 12 August 2022, the Congolese authorities arrested and interrogated for several hours Dimanche Kamate, editor-in-chief of Radio Muungano, which broadcasts on 95.1 MHz from Oicha, a town built around a missionary hospital that opened in 1935. The issue was broadcast on 7 August 2022, hosted by a local social defence group, in which the UN report on the ongoing mission (known as Monusco) and the Rwandan government’s support for the M23 rebel group were discussed. According to the military administrator of the area who ordered the arrest, the programme violated the state of siege, in force in North Kivu province, as there are limits to freedom of expression.

Torture and murder

The condolence message published by the broadcaster on the website
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Just over a month ago, on 17 July 2022, Michel Hangi, technician and speaker of a community radio station, was shot dead at around 7pm (night in the southern hemisphere). He had just left the studios of Soleil Levant, a station broadcasting on 94.3 MHz from Kiziba 2, a village on the outskirts of Goma, in Nyiragongo territory (also in North Kivu). He had just finished his programme, which he ran in addition to his job as a technician, and which involved the involvement of listeners: for the moment his murder is unsolved. While fearing for his safety, a journalist from La Voix de Mikeno, a community radio station broadcasting from Bunagana on 97.7 MHz, was captured and tortured on 5 July by M23 rebels.

Studios destroyed and staff in exile

Director André Byamungu, reached in his shelter by Congo Buzz TV staff, said that the transmitter, mixer and microphones were stolen and the studio and sound insulation on the walls damaged
Director André Byamungu, reached in his shelter by Congo Buzz TV staff, said that the transmitter, mixer and microphones were stolen and the studio and sound insulation on the walls damaged
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The station was vandalised on 13 June, as soon as the paramilitary group M23 took control of the town (the most important near the border with Rwanda). The staff (who fled to Uganda and other river towns in Bunagana) only managed to save two portable recorders. The military formation controls the Bunagana area near the borders of Rwanda and Uganda (North Kivu) accusing the press of passing on information about the group’s positions and hideouts to the government. Eastern Congo, which borders Rwanda, lives under threat from dozens of armed groups vying for the mineral wealth of the region: gold, diamonds and coltan, a mixture of minerals from which tantalum, used in the electronics and semiconductor industry, electric cars, laptops and mobile phones, is extracted, as explained in various articles by the Voice of America, Radio Maria and the Ispi Centre for International Political Studies.

ITALY: RADIO ZETA BECOMES NATIONAL

Radio Zeta becomes national
Lorenzo Suraci, president of the RTL 102.5 radio group that includes Radio Zeta and Radiofreccia, pictured during the press conference in which he announced the acquisition of the national concession
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From being a multi-regional broadcaster, Radio Zeta has become national, with the purchase (on May 25) of the concession that gives it the right to broadcast its signal no longer over certain regions but throughout Italy. The authorization to broadcast the signal nationwide was held by Monradio, a company in the Mediaset galaxy, the second-largest television hub after RAI (with the Canale 5, Italia 1 and Rete 4 brands) and which through Mediaset Radio owns four radio networks (Radio 105, R101, RMC – Radio Monte Carlo and Virgin Radio) and the superstation Radio Subasio. To keep it from lapsing, the concession had been used for years to broadcast (lately from a single facility located in Valtellina, in the province of Sondrio, in Lombardy) Radio Orbital, a Portuguese broadcaster. Why a foreign broadcaster on Italian soil? Because the concession had been created in the 1990s (requested from the then Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications) by Radio Milano International to repeat a foreign broadcaster, VOA-Voice of America. And when Monradio took over the RMI network (which has since become Radio 101-One O One) from bankruptcy in 2005, turning it into the current R101, it found itself with a second valuable concession to use.

How many national radio stations are there?

In the table produced by Confindustria Radio TV, for each radio network the company that owns it, the publishing group to which it belongs, and the type of concession (public, commercial or community) are indicated
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The announcement of the acquisition was made by Lorenzo Suraci, president of RTL 102.5, during the press conference of “Future Hits Live 2022,” a festival promoted by Radio Zeta. In Suraci’s statement reported on the website of the association Confindustria Radio TV, of which the publisher is also a director, it is stated that “Radio Zeta to all intents and purposes is the 18th national radio station.” However, the same Confindustria, in a study on national advertising some time ago, had published the list that we reproduce, which counts 21. Since then Radiofreccia has turned into a commercial radio station (in 2021) thus leaving Radio Maria as the only national community radio station, while Radio Radicale, which has a commercial concession, does not carry advertising.

Acquisitions restart

Radio Zeta was established 1 January 2016 on the frequencies taken over from the multi-regional radio station of the same name
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Radio Zeta can now complete its national coverage. It has 256 repeaters, less than half the number of Radiofreccia (the group’s other station has 545) and one-third of flagship RTL 102.5 (which can boast 765). After all, the radio station had to concentrate only on certain regions in order not to exceed coverage limits, which the law sets at 15 million potential listeners for superstations (broadcasters with multi-regional coverage). To reach uncovered areas, the broadcaster is acquiring dozens of new frequencies in different regions, either by taking over redundant channels from other broadcasters in the group or by purchasing them. This could revitalize somewhat the frequency market, which has been depressed by the crisis and with prices in free fall. This is a typical anomaly in the Italian market, in that no new authorizations have been issued since 1990 (pending regulation that never happened), so they must be purchased from other publishers.

AFGHANISTAN: NO PEACE FOR THE MEDIA

The Lockmat Times gives an overview of the situation after the Taliban crackdown on information.
The Lokmat Times gives an overview of the situation after the Taliban crackdown on the information.
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Since 28 March, the Taliban have banned the possibility of repeating foreign broadcasters’ programmes on Afghan territory. The first to stop broadcasting was the BBC, which asked for the decision to be revoked because programmes in Persian, Pashto and Uzbek are still only receivable by those with a satellite dish: 20% of the estimated six million listeners. Before the American withdrawal, the BBC also had dozens of FM installations in various parts of the country, including two in Kabul, on 89.0 and 101.6 MHz. The blockade makes no distinction and also affects the Voice of America, Deutsche Welle and the China Global Television Network.

Free speech in free fall

Published every year since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states
Published every year since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states
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According to a survey conducted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in collaboration with the Afghan Independent Journalists Association (AIJA), in four months (15 August to 20 December 2021), 231 media outlets ceased operations, putting more than 6,400 journalists out of work. And women are the hardest hit: four out of five have been ‘sent home’. And who knows how many positions Afghanistan will lose in the world press freedom rankings drawn up by the World Press Freedom Index, which measures press freedom in 180 countries around the world: in the 2021 report, Afghanistan was already in 122nd place.

UKRAINE: THE MEDIA CONFLICT/PART 4 (1-2 March 2022)

1 March: Moscow tries to switch off the capital’s broadcasters

At the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Russia targeted social networks, which in response raised their defences to prevent tracking of users in the occupied territories and blocked Kremlin-controlled media. But since March, the target has been extended to radio and television infrastructures, even though the Russian army is keeping Ukrainian mobile phone networks intact for use due to technical problems with encrypted military communication systems). Europe’s response is not long in coming.

The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower
The moment of impact of one of the two Russian missiles that hit the transmission tower
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Ukraine is a largely flat country, and in the capital, even if antennas were placed on a skyscraper (the tallest, the 178-metre Klovsky Descent 7A, was inaugurated in 2015), the signal would be absorbed by the ground after a few tens of kilometres, due to the earth’s curvature. A respectable transmission tower is therefore used to extend coverage. Built between 1968 and 1973, during the time of the Soviet Union, it has a diameter at the base of 90 metres and is 380 metres high. It is the tallest in the world (among those made entirely of metal) and the tallest building in Ukraine. (Wikipedia info here).

On GoogleMaps, there are several pictures and with StreetView you can ‘walk’ around the tower, changing perspective.

2 March: BBC responds by dusting off the short waves

The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia
The BBC World Service tweet shows the coverage area of the broadcasts on 15735 and 5875 kHz, which can be received in Kyiv and parts of Russia
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In order to inform the Ukrainian population, the BBC is reactivating two short-wave frequencies that used to broadcast the news of the World Service for four hours a day (broadcasts to Europe had ended in 2008). These are the British transmitters in Woofferton. Built during World War II, and privatised at the end of the Cold War, it is still used by the BBC to broadcast the World Service and leased to other broadcasters (Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Voice of Vietnam).

MORE CUTS FOR RADIO THAT SPEAKS TO CUBANS

The station is financed through Usagm (U.S. Agency for Global Media), which also oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa
The station is financed through USAGM (U.S. Agency for Global Media), which also oversees the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, Alhurra TV and Radio Sawa
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The US disengagement also has implications for propaganda radio stations. Such as Radio y TV Martí, a radio and television station based in Miami, Florida, and aimed at the Cuban people. The Biden administration had made an initial cut of 10 million dollars, and now another is on the horizon, which would also include a reduction in personnel. Many politicians of Cuban-American origin, from Senator Marco Rubio to some members of the Florida House of Representatives, have risen up against the decision.

A report by Diario Las Américas, a Spanish-language Florida daily, can be read here.

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