The state maintains direct or indirect control of all broadcast media. The government owns the only national radio and television broadcast system, RTVGE. The president’s eldest son owns the only private radio station. Satellite broadcasts are widely available, including the French language Africa24 television news channel that occasionally carries opposition criticism. Foreign channels, including Radio France International (RFI) and the BBC World Service, were broadcast uncensored throughout the country.
Telephone system: digital fixed-line network in most major urban areas and good mobile coverage; fixed-line density is about 2 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership has been increasing and in 2011 stood at about 60 percent of the population; international communications from Bata and the capital, Malabo, to African and European countries (2011).
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. Most overt criticism of the government comes from the country's community in exile, and the Internet has replaced broadcast media as the primary way opposition views were expressed and disseminated.
Although the constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press, the law grants authorities extensive powers to restrict media activities, which the government uses to limit these rights. While criticism of government policies is allowed, individuals generally can not criticize the president, his family, other high-ranking officials, or the security forces without fear of reprisal. Libel is a criminal offense, but there were no instances of the government using these laws to suppress criticism during 2012.
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, but the government often does not respect these prohibitions. Search warrants are required unless the crime is in progress or for reasons of national security. Security forces enter homes without authorization and arrest alleged criminals, foreign nationals, and others, often without required judicial orders. The government reportedly attempts to impede criticism by monitoring the activities of the political opposition, journalists, and others. Journalists are subject to surveillance and practice self-censorship.