30 June 2010

New media decree gags foreign journalists

Foreign journalists and media outlets must now seek clearance from Niger's communications ministry and pay large, non-refundable fees prior to entering the country to work on films or documentaries, reports the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA). This new media law, issued on 3 June, also stipulates that journalists must submit final versions of their work to the ministry.

The country's media and civil society groups say the law will restrict the flow of information and undermine the work of foreign journalists. Television stations, production agencies and radio stations must pay between US$1,850-$3,700, while newspapers must pay about US$925 each. These fees do not exempt them from existing taxes, duties and levies.

"These new measures are a true obstruction of access to the right of public information in Niger. It is a setback for democracy," said the Nigerian Association of Private Newspaper Publishers.

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