Media Overview

Radio is the dominant form of mass communication in
Guinea.

 

However, broadcasting remains heavily dominated by the
state media.

 

The government’s radio and TV stations have acted as a
tightly controlled propaganda tool for the government ever since independence
in 1958.

 

Guinea’s transition to elected government since 2008 has
done little to change that.

 

Press freedom is a relatively new concept in the country.

 

The first private radio station began broadcasting in 2006.
Since then at least 17 private FM stations have been licensed to operate across
Guinea.

 

Most are concentrated in the capital Conakry, but a
handful serve large towns in the interior, such as Kankan, Labe, Nzerekore, Siguiri, Faranah and Coyah.

 

Private newspapers have been allowed to exist since 1991. However,
newspaper readership remains small and is largely confined to educated and
relatively affluent people in the capital.

 

Restrictive media laws, government interference, intimidation,
physical violence and a lack of funding, have all contributed to a difficult
media environment.

 

Violence against journalists became common-place in 2009
and 2010 during the difficult two-year transition to democracy.

 

According to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists
and the US based media development
organization IREX many journalists were physically attacked. Most radio
stations and newspapers found themselves practicing self-censorship to avoid
retribution during this period.

 

Following the bloody repression of the September 2009
demonstrations in Conakry against the military government led by Captain Moussa
Dadis Camara, several journalists fled the country. Some private media also suspended
operations temporarily for fear of recriminations.

 

In the past, the government used restrictive media laws to
imprison critical journalists and shut down opposition media outlets on charges
of defamation.

 

However, these were replaced with new more liberal media
laws in 2010.

 

The international freedom of expression organization Article 19 welcomed the new legislation as a significant
step towards genuine press freedom.

 

The new media laws have removed prison sentences for
defamation cases. They have also adopted a narrower legal definition of defamation
and have made the offence much harder to prove in court.

 

The 2010 media laws created a new regulatory body for the
sector called the Haute Autorite de
Communication
or Higher Authority of
Communication (HAC)
.

 

This provides for much stronger representation of media
interests in its membership than its predecessor, the Conseil National de Communication (CNC) or National Communication Council.

 

However, in early 2011, the HAC was still not operational,
so the CNC continued to function as Guinea’s de facto media regulator.

 

The new media laws give legal recognition to the growing
number of online media news websites and radio stations that have become
important sources of independent information in recent years.

 

The state broadcaster, Radiodiffusion-Television Guinéenne (RTG), operates a national radio service, which is
variously called Radio
Nationale
or Radio Guinéenne. This broadcasts nationwide on FM from 29
transmitters across the country.

 

Radio
Guinéenne also provides news bulletins
and programme content for a government-run network of local 23 FM stations called
Radio Rurale de Guinée.

 

The Radio Rurale stations, are nominally
independent from RTG, but they rebroadcast its main daily news programme in French and translate some of its other
programming into local languages.

 

The Radio Rurale stations are often the only radio
outlets available in remote and otherwise media dark areas of the interior.

 

International broadcasters also form part of the
Guinean radio media landscape.

 

BBC World
Service
and Radio France Internationale both use FM relay stations and partner
stations to broadcast news and programmes in French in Conakry and a
handful of other large towns.

 

RTG
retains its monopoly on television in Guinea, but its
terrestrial broadcasts only reach Conakry and the main cities of the interior.

 

Television does not command a wide
audience and is completely absent from most rural areas. There are only 47
television sets per 1,000 people in Guinea, according to the French media
development organization Canal France International (CFI).

 

Satellite
television is available, but is not widely accessed.

 

There is only one
daily newspaper in Guinea – the official government newspaper Horoya. However, this prints less than
1,000 copies per day and is barely read outside government circles.

 

Several small
weekly newspapers are published in Conakry. However, sales are low – no
publication sells more than a few thousand copies.

 

Very few
newspapers of any kind are distributed outside the capital.

 

According to UNESCO,
in 2008 only 38% of Guineans over the age of 15 could read and write.