Since the dawn of democracy in Cameroon in the 90’s and the enactment of the 1990 law on social communication, the media landscape in Cameroon has witnessed a tremendous boom as freedom of expression has steadily been on the increase.
The Cameroon media landscape has existed under two regimes, one which was purely authoritarian (1960-1982) and the other democratic. Prior to the democratic regime, the press suffered tremendously from harassment, pre and post publication censorship, seizure and banning of newspaper houses. During this era, the press in Cameroon was virtually state owned and state controlled. The lone state radio, television and newspaper made known what the state wanted the public to be informed about. The angle of writing was dictated in a manner that made the government comfortable. Any story not pleasant to the hearing or contrary to the views of government landed the journalist in serious problems as it was termed as sabotage instead of the propaganda the government broadcast.
With the advent of democracy, the media landscape exploded, with the creation of hundreds of newspapers, radios and televisions across the national territory. The lone government media organ no more enjoyed the monopoly of beaming information single handedly. It had to face stiff competition which now characterizes the present dispensation of the Cameroon media landscape. The state media organ had to share a sizeable part of the audience with pioneer channels such as Canal 2 International, Vision 4, Equinox, and Spectrum Television. The leaning of programs and debates held in some of these media platforms is a palpable evidence of the reality of press freedom in Cameroon. The audience often assist in heated debates and hard talks where resource persons or participants freely and straightforwardly express their thoughts, at times insulting one another. Government and her ministers are not spared of the abuses when it comes to holding them accountable for work that was supposed to be for the common interest of all citizens. Conspicuous of such programs are Club d’Elite on Vision 4, Canal Press and la Grande Interview on Canal 2 International, Hebdo on Spectrum television, Press Hour on CRTV Television, Cameroon Calling on CRTV National Station and Verbatime on Royal FM 88.4 just to name these few.
Also, the initiation of Information and Communication Technology have favored the growth of a plethora of online media organs that have flooded the electronic space. Information is rapidly and instantly shared to a multitude of audience not minding its veracity, and yet, the authors are scarcely held responsible.
The freedom of expression enjoyed in Cameroon today is thanks to the states man ship of the Head of State who is a respecter of all human rights.