Somaliland suspends Universal TV

February 04, 2014

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The Somaliland regional administration on Monday (February 3rd) suspended the operations of privately-owned Universal TV after the channel aired what the administration called anti-government "propaganda".

Somaliland Minister of Information, Culture and National Guidance Abdullahi Mohamed Dahir said the channel broadcast programming offensive to President Ahmed Mohamed Silanyo when the station featured him in its weekly comedy programme on Sunday.

"Universal TV has broadcast cheap propaganda that has no place in media ethics and is the worst behaviour a journalist can engage in," Dahir said Monday at a news conference held in his Hargeisa office. "Starting today, we have revoked the license it received from the Ministry of Information and it cannot operate in Somaliland."

This is the third time Universal TV has transgressed against Somaliland and its sovereignty and it is something that the Somali government is involved in, Dahir said.

For his part, Ahmed Abukar, owner of Universal TV, denied that the station did anything against Somaliland or in violation of media ethics.

"It is not only illegal, but it is also the wrong decision and we are saddened by it," Abukar told Sabahi, adding that suspension came as a surprise.

"Even if the [Somaliland] administration thought that the television [station] committed a violation, it should have taken the legal route and the court should have clarified what their case against us would have been," he said. "But we view the minister of information's solitary decision to revoke the television station's license as a grave violation against the free press."

Abukar defended the station's weekly comedy programme and said it also features Somali political leaders interviewed in a similar manner.

"The [comedy programme] is not 100% wrong or something that is meant to harm Somaliland and we have a right to broadcast it," he said.

The National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) condemned the Somaliland administration's suspension of Universal TV.

"The decision to suspend Universal TV's operations in Somaliland is clear violation against the press freedom and freedom of expression and shows how the authorities in Somaliland are still committed to silence the independent media," said NUSOJ Secretary General Mohamed Ibrahim. "We call on the authorities in Somaliland to respect the media freedoms and freedom of expression which is key to a more stable and democratic society."

On December 13th, Somaliland officials shut down independent newspaper Hubaal News Network after authorities accused it of spreading false information. It remains closed.

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Reader's Comments

  • Cabdicasiis
    February 4, 2014 @ 06:27:55PM

    I think all people who are commenting in here, you are wrong, these kind of comments are not mediation but create disagreements. Please who ever wants to talk about this issue directed against Universal TV whether it is right or wrong please talk transparently. As we know there are many countries that doesn't accept TVs from an other country to operate its territory . So the Republic of Somaliland has the right to close what ever that is spreading insults.

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