Cameroon and the dilemma of media pluralism

Since 1990 in Cameroon, as part of the democratic transition, the authorities have introduced legislation ostensibly to provide for a free, independent, competitive and pluralistic mass media for the first time since independence. Many African countries have done the same since the democratic wave w...

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Published in: Communicatio Vol. 24; no. 1; pp. 21 - 31
Main Author: Fombad, Charles Manga
Format: Journal Article
Language: English
Afrikaans
Published: South Africa Taylor & Francis Group 01-01-1998
Unisa Press, University of South Africa
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Summary: Since 1990 in Cameroon, as part of the democratic transition, the authorities have introduced legislation ostensibly to provide for a free, independent, competitive and pluralistic mass media for the first time since independence. Many African countries have done the same since the democratic wave washed over the continent from the late 1980s. This article attempts to illustrate the complex problems and difficulties that have arisen in translating this rhetorically progressive Cameroonian legislation into reality. Experiences of the mass media in the last eight years, especially during election campaigns, show that excessive administrative constraints and abuse by the government of the public service media have undermined the media's role in sustaining and consolidating the country's faltering democratic transition. Authoritarian tendencies seem to be too deeply entrenched to be reversed through the existing legislative prescriptions. Because the post-1990 restrictions have instead bred extremism from which neither the government, the mass media nor civil society stand to gain, it is argued that more radical reforms are needed to pave the way for a genuinely free, independent and competitive media in Cameroon.
ISSN: 0250-0167
1753-5379
DOI: 10.1080/02500169808537841