Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Despite a constitutional provision for freedom of expression, the government restricts press freedom in practice. Libel is considered a criminal offense, and those convicted have received both prison sentences and fines. In a move applauded by press freedom groups, FM Radio Liberte was awarded some US$11,000 by Chad's Supreme Court for damages sustained when the station was shut down by authorities for airing statements critical of President Idriss Deby's third-term bid. Although press freedom has shown signs of improving in recent years, some subjects remain taboo in media coverage, particularly stories critical of President Deby or his relatives.
Journalists remain vulnerable to official intimidation and harassment. In February, the authorities in southern Chad shut down a small independent radio station, Radio Brakos, after it aired an interview with an opposition politician. Police beat up its director, Vatankah Tchanguis, detained him for three days, and then released him without charge. In July, three local correspondents for a new Canadian-based monthly called Ialtchad Presse were detained by members of the National Security Agency and charged with failing to properly register the publication. Staff at the newspaper said that since its launch, reporters had been the target of "threats and intimidation" from Chadian authorities and that vendors of the newspaper had been harassed by security forces, especially in the northern districts of N'Djamena. Local reporters, particularly those who work in the provinces, have alleged that they are sometimes denied access to officials and that the government restricts their ability to cover events.
Newspapers that criticize the government circulate freely but have little impact among the largely rural and illiterate population. According to the BBC, radio is the medium of mass communication, but state control over broadcast media allows few dissenting views. The only television station, Teletchad, is state owned, and its coverage favors the government. Despite high licensing fees for commercial radio stations, there are 13 privately owned stations on the air, some operated by nonprofit groups (including human rights groups and the Roman Catholic Church). These broadcasters are subject to close official scrutiny, and those that fail to pay annual fees to the state are threatened with closure.