state-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV); one private radio broadcaster; about 70 privately owned, unlicensed radio stations operating, but subject to closure at any time; foreign news services are required to partner with a state-owned national station (2007);
The government maintains tight control over broadcast media. State-owned Cameroon Radio Television (CRTV), operates both a TV and a radio network. It was the only officially recognized and fully licensed broadcaster until August 2007 when the government issued licenses to two private TV and one private radio broadcasters.
Approximately 375 privately owned radio stations were operating in 2012, three-fourths of them in Yaounde and Douala. The government requires nonprofit rural radio stations to submit applications to broadcast, but they were exempt from licensing fees. Commercial radio and television broadcasters must submit a licensing application and pay an application fee and thereafter pay a high annual licensing fee. Several rural community radio stations function with foreign funding. The government prohibits these stations from discussing politics.
In spite of the government's tight control, Reporters Without Borders reported in its 2011 field survey that "[i]t is clear from the diversity of the media and the outspoken reporting style that press freedom is a reality".
Telephone system: system includes cable, microwave radio relay, and tropospheric scatter; Camtel, the monopoly provider of fixed-line service, provides connections for only about 3 per 100 persons; equipment is old and outdated, and connections with many parts of the country are unreliable; mobile-cellular usage, in part a reflection of the poor condition and general inadequacy of the fixed-line network, has increased sharply, reaching a subscribership base of 50 per 100 persons (2011).
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms.
Although the law provides for freedom of speech and press, it also criminalizes media offenses, and the government restricts freedoms of speech and press. Government officials threaten, harass, arrest, and deny equal treatment to individuals or organizations that criticize government policies or express views at odds with government policy. Individuals who criticize the government publicly or privately sometimes face reprisals. Press freedom is constrained by strict libel laws that suppress criticism. These laws authorize the government, at its discretion and the request of the plaintiff, to criminalize a civil libel suit or to initiate a criminal libel suit in cases of alleged libel against the president and other high government officials. Such crimes are punishable by prison terms and heavy fines.
Although the constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, these rights are subject to restriction for the "higher interests of the state", and there are credible reports that police and gendarmes harass citizens, conduct searches without warrants, and open or seize mail with impunity.