Yaoundé (National Times)-Controversial Cameroonian television Channel, Vision 4, has been suspended by the Higher Communication Authority (HAC) of Gabon for declaring its President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, dead.
The sanction was pronounced following an extraordinary session of the HAC on Tuesday where it accused Vision 4 of failing to respect the ethics and deontology of the profession.
It blamed the channel for the non-respect of honesty and exactitude in communication. “Vision 4 announced the death of President Ali Bongo in violation of the basic rules which forms the backbone of communication which are honesty and exactitude of information. By broadcasting the information, the television channel failed to assure the totality of the population of honest information,” a press release from HAC reads in part.
According to HAC, the act by Vision 4 is a breach of privacy, a call for the breakdown of national unity, social cohesion, public order and stability of institutions. It therefore suspended the broadcasting of Vision 4 from the Gabonese territory for a period of six months.
The sanctions came despite the apologies presented by the channel’s Editor-in-Chief. On Saturday, Vision 4’s celebrated presenter, Nadine Patricia Mengue, announced during the evening newscast that President Ali Bongo Ondimba was dead. She emphatically stated that the President died in Saudi Arabia. Hours later, the Cameroon Embassy in Libreville issued a statement debunking the allegations promising tough sanctions to the media.
Vision 4 has been shrouded in other controversies. At the incipient stages of the Anglophone conflict, its Journalists used a term which referred to Anglophones as rats.
The channel also called on the President to reinforce the military presence to crush Anglophones. During the Presidential campaigns, opposition candidate, Maurice Kamto rejected appeals by the channel to appear on its screen accusing it of violent communication and the spreading of hate speech. With strong roots planted into the political system of Cameroon, Vision 4 has benefitted from an unofficial immunity from prosecution even by the National Communication Council of Cameroon.
It is still not known whether the Government would pronounce sanctions according to the statement from the Cameroon Embassy.