1 September 2014

Mozambique: Radio Station Shut Down On Eve of Election Campaign

Maputo — A community radio station, Radio Progresso, in the southern Mozambican town of Maxixe, has received orders to shut down its broadcasts immediately, on the grounds that it is interfering with the communications of the nearby Inhambane airport, reports Monday's issue of the independent newsheet "Mediafax".

The order came from the Mozambique National Communications Institute (INCM), the state body that regulates the attribution of frequencies.

It said that the frequency used by Radio Progresso (104.2 Mhz) is obstructing the communications between the Inhambane control tower and aircraft.

The radio's coordinator, Issufo Badru, pointed out that the radio has been broadcasting since 1998, without any hint that its broadcasts were causing problems. He told the paper it had taken 16 years "for a doubtful decision to emerge, but rubber stamped by the government, and ordering us to shut our mouths".

He said there had been no advance warning - nobody from the INCM had contacted the radio about the supposed interference with the airport communications.

Over the weekend, he added, "we have been suffering heavy economic losses. We have commitments to our clients".

The radio had drawn up a plan to cover the general election campaign which began on Sunday, but unless another frequency is allocated to the radio, there may be no coverage at all.

"We wanted to undertake rigourous, impartial and independent coverage", said Badru."We wanted to give space to all the actors in the political process, but unfortunately they ordered us to close down two days before the start of the election campaign".

Radio Progresso is a popular station broadcasting a diverse range of programmes, which has allowed it to obtain large amounts of advertising. It has carried live broadcasts of sessions of the Maxixe municipal assembly, and has interviewed senior political figures from all thee parliamentary parties - the ruling Frelimo Party, the former rebel movement Renamo, and the Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM).

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