In Algeria, the press comes up against a series of red lines. Simply mentioning corruption or the crushing of demonstrations can invite threats and police interrogation.v
The media landscape in Algeria has never been so deteriorated. The independent media are under pressure, journalists are often jailed and prosecuted, and several websites are blocked. Privately owned TV channels, including Ennahar TV, Echorouk TV and El Bilad TV, are the leading media. The outlets regarded as the most serious and credible are the daily newspaper El Watan and the TSA and Interlignes websites.
The political climate is tense, especially since President Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s election in December 2019. The media and journalists have been under constant pressure, mostly from the president’s office, political parties, security services, and local officials. It is difficult for reporters to work freely and independently when the government exerts direct influence on the hiring and firing of executives in the media and in regulatory agencies.
The legislative framework is increasingly restrictive. Article 54 of the constitution guarantees freedom of the press, but also conditions the dissemination of information and opinions on respect for “the nation’s religious, moral and cultural characteristics and values”. Under a penal code amendment adopted in 2020, disseminating “false news” and “hate speech” aimed at harming “national security and order” or “state security and national unity” is punishable by one to three years in prison. These provisions are often used to prosecute and convict journalists, resulting in widespread censorship and self-censorship. A media law adopted in 2023 introduced new restrictions and sanctions, and banned Algerian media outlets from benefitting from any direct and indirect foreign funding or material assistance under penalty of heavy fines.
The private sector has been hit hard since 2019, with many media outlets, including TV channels, forced to shut down, above all because advertising has dried up. In addition, government subsidies are granted only to state-owned media or to privately owned media outlets that support the government.
The social and cultural environment for journalists in the interior of the country is different from the coast. In cities in the interior, local associations, the prefect and religious groups are powerful and impose censorship on journalists. Social and religious conservatism also carry weight, preventing reporters from tackling subjects involving sexuality or religion.
Threats and intimidation of journalists are on the rise and there is no protection mechanism. Reporters critical of the authorities may face arbitrary detention, surveillance, and wiretapping. Outspoken journalists or those who support the “Hirak” protest movement launched in February 2019 may be subjected to social media threats and hate campaigns waged from anonymous accounts by pro-government trolls known in Arabic as “doubab” (electronic flies).