Private radio operators in Mali today denounced a state crackdown on pirate broadcasters, with 47 stations threatened with closure for failing to obtain licences. High levels of illiteracy in the largely desert west African nation make radio a lifeline for isolated communities with few other means of getting local news and information. "You have to give these stations time to conform to the law," said Bandiougou Dante, president of the Union of Free Radio and Television of Mali (UFRTM). "The problem is that these stations in the interior of the country only have provisional licences and are useful to the local population," Dante said. On Thursday Mali's communications regulator announced the stations affected had been sent notices to shut down "for not respecting the rules".
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