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Cablegate: Congolese National Tv Network Suspends Journalists For

VZCZCXYZ0023
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKI #1075 3391556
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041556Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KINSHASA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8861
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUCNSAD/SADC COLLECTIVE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUZEJAA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK

UNCLAS KINSHASA 001075

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM KPAO CG
SUBJECT: CONGOLESE NATIONAL TV NETWORK SUSPENDS JOURNALISTS FOR
ALLEGED SUBVERSIVE ACTIVITIES

Sensitive but Unclassified.

1. (SBU) Summary: On December 2, executives of the
government-owned "Radio Television Nationale Congolaise"
(RTNC) suspended twelve journalists for broadcasting footage of a
protest march that purportedly highlighted seditious content. This
decision is not a departure from RTNC's long history of lack of
tolerance for diversity of opinion. End summary.

2. (U) On December 2, 2008, executives of the government-owned
Radio Television Nationale Congolaise
(RTNC) suspended twelve journalists for broadcasting information on
a protest march against the conflict in eastern Congo that had been
held in Brussels, Belgium, a few days before. The footage clearly
showed a protester's sign demanding that DRC President Joseph Kabila
step down. As a consequence, RTNC accused the journalists of being
members of a mysterious group using the television network to pursue
subversive goals. RTNC top executive Kipolongo Mukambilwa refused
to comment on the suspension on the grounds that it is an
administrative decision that does not concern the media. Suspended
RTNC personnel include field journalists and TV editors.

3. (U) In reaction to RTNC's decision, human rights NGO
Journalistes En Danger (JED) called on parliament to pass a law that
would support the creation of unbiased public media open to all
viewpoints.

4. (SBU) Comment: Independent Congolese media have become freer
and more diverse in the past fifteen years, but the government-owned
national television network has persistently maintained its
allegiance to the executive branch of Government. As a result, RTNC
has been used as a propaganda mouthpiece by successive
administrations willing to push their agendas in an environment
devoid of dissent. Moreover, this tight grip on national media has
kept RTNC journalists in subservience and fostered self-censorship
with a resultant lack of balanced and objective reporting. End
comment.

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