Communication. Cameroon makes progress in press freedom ranking

Cameroon has moved one place up on the Reporter Without Border (RSF)’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index. In the index published recently by the global press freedom advocacy outfit, Cameroon occupied the 129th position out of 180 countries worldwide which were indexed. Cameroon was ranked on the 130th position in 2017.

This year, Cameroon recorded a score of 40.92, as against 41.59 last year. Going by the index, Norway is the country with the freest press in the world while North Korea is the least. Cameroon is better placed than Egypt, Morocco and other north African countries.

The RSF World Press Freedom Index indicates that though the media in Cameroon still faces some threats, no journalist, citizen journalist or media assistant has been killed in the year under review.

Besides the RSF ranking, other press freedom indexes consider Cameroon as partly free. This is thanks to the multiplicity of media organs operating in the country. Media practitioners too relatively have the free will to go about exercising their profession.

Issa Tchiroma Bakary, Minister of Communication, has often underscored that press freedom is a living reality in Cameroon. ‘’With regard to one of its essential components, which is that of political pluralism, the current statistics are unequivocal: more than 600 newspapers in the print media, at least 200 sound broadcasting stations, and more than 30 television channels. With regard to the editorial independence, it should be underscored that there is only one daily newspaper of general and political interest and a radio and television broadcasting corporation belonging to the public sector. The vast majority of the media therefore define their editorial lines and animate their content without any State interference. Moreover, the freedom of speech showcased by these media is enough evidence to justify the free environment prevailing in the Cameroonian media landscape, as well as the Government’s willingness to allow the press to express itself without any external constraint,’’ the Minister once told reporters.

Despite a global situation characterized by a tight national treasury, particularly related to the uncertainties of the world economy and the constraints linked to internal security, the government of Cameroon in a bid to promote press freedom is gradually moving towards the objective set by the State, to increase its contribution to support the operating costs of private media to the tune of 500 million FCFA per year. At the same time, the project to establish a special allocation account for the economic viability of privately-owned media is also progressing with the audit of the resources expected to supply the account.

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