Algeria: The Invisible Hand of Power over the Media

The re-election of Abdelaziz Bouteflika in 2014 for a fourth term as the president of Algeria has caused a lot of tension. The situation has deteriorated, as Algeria has, since 2015, suffered from the falling of the price of petrol whereby the price of the barrel has decreased by 70% in two years.

In the midst of this complex political situation, the media has played a rather important role in building an information vector between the state and the citizen. For a long time the press, and especially the post-1990s private newspapers resulting from the process of democratic openness, have been the focal point in assessing press freedom in Algeria. However, the reforms undertaken by the government in the media sector since 2011 and the press code voted in 2012 are also to be considered. The 2012 press code has partially decriminalized the press offenses and has also liberalized the television sector, a state monopoly heretofore. The 2014 Audiovisual law consolidates this opening even further, though the new private television channels are evolving in a grey zone awaiting further legal texts regulating the sector. Besides newspapers and television channels, electronic media has enriched the Algerian media panorama. The growing number of citizen journalists should also lead to reconceptualising the information sector in the digital and social networks age.

However, an increased number of actors in the media sector does not necessarily equate to a greater government tolerance of the right to free, independent information, nor to a genuine pluralism of opinion.