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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Radio stations facing the crisis in Ivory Coast (by Serge Adams Diakité for Farm Radio Weekly in Ivory Coast)

After being announced and reported several times, the presidential election finally happened in Ivory Coast, on 31 October 2010. And the second round took place on 28 November 2010. This vote has not brought peace to Ivorians and other people leaving in Ivory Coast, as they had wished. Seventy-two hours after the election, Ivory Coast slipped into a severe legal, political and diplomatic crisis. Farm Radio Weekly emailed one of our contacts who works in radio in Ivory Coast to see how the crisis has affected radio in the country, and what role radio is playing in the situation.

Currently, there are several different types of radio stations in Ivory Coast. There are two public stations (Radio Côte d’Ivoire and Fréquence 2) that belong to the national Ivorian Radio and Television network (Radiodiffusion-Télévision Ivoirienne, or RTI). These stations remained loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and to the LMP, the group of political parties who supported Laurent Gbagbo’s candidacy. In addition, there are two commercial channels (Nostalgie and Jam FM), three school radios (Elit ‘FM, Radio BLM and Atlantic FM); six religious stations (for example Fréquence Vie, Radio Nationale Catholique, Radio Espoir and Radio Al Bayane), close to 130 privately-owned community stations, an institutional radio (ONUCI FM, managed by the United Nations in Ivory Coast), and various international radio broadcasts such as Voice of America, BBC and RFI. Radio Canada International and the Deutsche Welle do have local relays but no programming in frequency modulation (FM).

The newest radio station is ”Radio Côte d’Ivoire, The Voice of the Rally.” It currently operates without permission. The station supports the RDPH (the Association of Houphouétists for Democracy and Peace, the opposition coalition, made of the party of Alassane Ouattara, of Henri Konan Bedie and many others, the Association of Houphouétists for Democracy and Peace (Rassemblement des Houphouétistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix -RHDP). The station was launched in December 2010, to, in the station’s own words, bring some balance to the domination of the media by pro-Gbagbo voices.

The mission of these radio stations varies according to their category – information-sharing, raising awareness, educating, advertising, entertaining, or broadcasting religious content. Today, it is obvious that apart from religious radios, commercial radios, radio schools and community radios, radio stations are ignoring their mission statements in order to support their chosen political cause. This means that the airwaves are brimming with disinformation, calls for civil disobedience, brain wash, propaganda, appeals for resistance, etc. The two public channels are working together to support Laurent Gbagbo and “The Republic”. As far as Alassane Ouattara is concerned, he is supported by the RHDP station -broadcasting from the Golf Hotel- and by Ivoir’ FM, which broadcasts from Bouaké, the stronghold of the Forces Nouvelles or “New Forces,” a coalition of rebel movements.

International channels and ONUCI are said to be one-sided or professional by either side, depending on the nature of the information they deliver.

Community radio stations are not allowed to take part in political debate. They have complied. Besides broadcasting music programs and shows about development issues, most promote peace and social cohesion. During the post-election crisis though, one community radio station was set on fire, while one was ransacked and another one was looted.

Since Farm Radio Weekly received this news from the Ivory Coast, the National Council for Audiovisual Communication has cancelled ONUCI FM’s licence (the United Nations’ radio in Ivory Coast), although ONUCI FM was continuing to broadcast. You can read more at: http://www.mediafrica.net/News_Popup.php?Id=4465 and http://blogs.rnw.nl/medianetwork/ivory-coast-cancels-un-radios-broadcasting-licence.

For more information on radio in Ivory Coast, see “News from the Field: Media’s Role in Peacebuilding: A Case Study in Côte d’Ivoire”: http://www.radiopeaceafrica.org/index.cfm?lang=en&context_id=2&context=events&action=oneEvent&content_id=195

IRIN has compiled some briefings on the situation in Ivory Coast: http://www.irinnews.org/Country.aspx?Country=CI

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