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Algeria in major crackdown on private broadcasters

Communications minister Hamid Grine has been tasked with closing down private channels

Communications minister Hamid Grine has been tasked with closing down private channels

Algeria’s prime minister Abdelmalek Sellal has reportedly ordered the closure of around 60 private TV channels in a bid to combat what he describes as “anarchy” in the broadcasting sector.

According to Algerian news organisation Tout Sur l’Algérie (TSA), Sellal has ordered communication minister Hamid Grine to close down the country’s private broadcasters in the absence of an “agreement” authorising their right to air.

According to TSA, Sellal, justifying the move, said that “the values and principles of Algerian society are red lines” and that “these limits have been breached”. Sellal accused TV channels of disseminating lies and of attempting to manipulate the population. He said that this could destabilise Algerian society, promote schism and favour regionalism.

Sellal said that channels that respected the rules would be allowed to continue on air.

Non-Algerian news sites including Moroccan online news site Le360.ma suggest that the move is motivated by moves to crush opposition to long-serving president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The Algerian private broadcasting sector has expanded dramatically since a 50-year state monopoly in TV was ended three years ago.

Tags: Algeria