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EXAMINING THE STATE OF MEDIA FREEDOM AND PRESS REGULATION IN CAMEROON

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EXAMINING THE STATE OF MEDIA FREEDOM AND PRESS REGULATION IN CAMEROON

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Comprehending the level of press freedom in Cameroon is crucial for evaluating the state of journalism in the nation. Media control is inevitable since media operate within a social structure. The extent of control directly impacts the degree of press freedom. Various circumstances may limit media owners, reporters, editors, and journalists from operating with the highest level of impartiality and ethical integrity [Baum & Zhukov, 2018]. Journalists may choose to withhold information in order to protect an individual's privacy, prevent harm, or ensure national security. Journalists may see journalism ethics as lofty philosophical ideas until they get consistent and substantial income, which may attract highly qualified persons to the industry. Journalists, owners, and managers should get frequent training to be informed about societal developments and worldwide best practices, as suggested by Hearns-Branaman (2018). This would enhance professionalism and decrease the need for control. Media freedom and press regulation are essential elements of a democratic society, playing a crucial role in maintaining openness, accountability, and safeguarding people' rights. Cameroon, located in Central Africa, has been facing growing attention and concern over media freedom and press regulation, both at home and abroad (Muluh, 2017).

Cameroon's media environment includes a diverse range of channels, including state-owned companies and privately-owned newspapers, radio stations, and internet platforms. The country's media ecosystem faces issues like as government censorship, restrictive legislation, and harassment of journalists, despite its seeming variety.

Cameroon has had a complicated socio-political environment, characterised by conflicts between the Anglophone and Francophone areas, which have impacted media dynamics. Government has shown control and influence over media content via censorship and crackdowns on opposing voices. These activities have raised worries about violating freedom of speech and suppressing independent journalism (Ngange & Elempia, 2019).

Press regulation in Cameroon is controlled by numerous laws and regulatory agencies, notably the National Communication Council (NCC), which is entrusted with supervising media operations and ensuring conformity with legal frameworks. Yet, opponents have raised concerns about the efficacy of these regulatory institutions, pointing out problems like as prejudice, lack of transparency, and selective enforcement.

Moreover, the digital era has introduced fresh difficulties and possibilities for media freedom in Cameroon. Online platforms provide opportunities for unrestricted speech and sharing of information, but they are also vulnerable to government monitoring and control. Social media platforms are becoming arenas for political discussions, often sparking disputes on the limits of free speech and regulation.

Due to these intricacies, it is essential to carry out a thorough evaluation of the status of media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon. An inquiry should take into account several aspects such as legislative frameworks, institutional processes, socio-political dynamics, and technology breakthroughs that influence the media landscape (Omenugha & Uzuegbunam, 2015). This research aims to enhance comprehension of the intricate issues related to media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon. It also seeks to offer insights that could guide policy reforms and advocacy initiatives to foster a more transparent and democratic media landscape. Therefore, the researcher sought to examine the state of media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon.

1.2 Statement of the problem

Media freedom and press regulation are essential elements of a democratic society, acting as foundations for the spread of information, safeguarding people' rights, and fostering responsibility in government. Cameroon's diversified socio-political environment complicates the problem of media freedom and press control in the nation.  Although there are constitutional protections and international obligations to protect freedom of speech and the press in Cameroon, there are considerable concerns about how these rights are actually put into practice and enforced. The issue stems from several reasons (Omenugha & Uzuegbunam, 2015).

The legislative framework concerning media freedom and press control in Cameroon may be unclear, inconsistent, and lacking enforcement measures, which may result in ambiguity and possible misuse. Allegations suggest that the government is exerting control and censoring the media, hindering independent journalism and impeding the press's ability to act as a watchdog. Journalists, media organisations, and activists for media freedom often encounter intimidation, harassment, and violence, leading to a culture of fear and self-censorship. The regulatory procedures in the media industry may lack transparency, accountability, and independence, which raises concerns regarding their efficacy in guaranteeing responsible journalism and defending press freedom (Omenugha & Uzuegbunam, 2015). Cameroon's diverse ethnic makeup, regional conflicts, and security issues complicate the situation of media freedom and press control, potentially affecting societal unity and democratic administration. It is essential to comprehend the complexities of media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon to pinpoint systemic issues, suggest policy changes, and create a supportive climate for robust journalism, civic participation, and democratic values.

1.3 Objective of the study

The broad objective of the study is to examine the state of media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon.  The specific ojectives is as follows

Investigate the level of media freedom in Cameroon.

Analyze the socio-political dynamics shaping media freedom in Cameroon.

Examine how government policies  influence the independence and freedom of the media in Cameroon.

Propose strategies for enhancing media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon.

1.4 Research questions

The following questions have been prepared to guide the study

What is the level of media freedom in Cameroon?

What are the socio-political dynamics shaping media freedom in Cameroon?

How do government policies  influence the independence and freedom of the media in Cameroon?

What are the strategies for enhancing media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon?

1.5 Significance of the study

The findings of the study will be significant to the following

Media Regulation and Policy makers: Research into media's influence on political discourse can inform policymakers about the need for regulations that ensure media plurality, freedom of expression, and ethical journalism practices. It can also shed light on the effectiveness of existing media policies and suggest improvements for fostering a healthier media environment.

Cameroon government: Understanding this relationship is essential for promoting democratic governance, fostering informed citizenry, and advancing political reform agendas. By delving deeper into these dynamics, policymakers, scholars, and media practitioners can work towards creating a more transparent, inclusive, and vibrant political discourse in Cameroon.

Academia: the findings of the study will be significant to the academic community as it will contribute to the existing literature on the subject matter.

1.6 Scope of the study

The study focuses on  the state of media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon.  Empirically, the study will investigate the level of media freedom in Cameroon, analyze the socio-political dynamics shaping media freedom in Cameroon, examine how government policies  influence the independence and freedom of the media in Cameroon and propose strategies for enhancing media freedom and press regulation in Cameroon.

1.7 Limitations of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, and interview), which is why the researcher resorted to a moderate choice of sample size. More so, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. As a result, the amount of time spent on research will be reduced.

1.8 Definition of terms

Media freedom: Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the fundamental principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely

Press regulation: describes a regulatory body functioning entirely under statute, probably funded by the state and generally answerable to parliament. 


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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