Algeria Press

Algeria Press and Media

Africa

Democracy, transparency, freedom of expression and free media are the exception rather than the rule in recent Algerian history, as they can call into question the rule of the regime and the elites that benefit from it. After 1988, however, the press was under pressure; numerous newspapers and magazines were founded.

This variety of printed publications in French and Arabic is in stark contrast to the uniform press landscape in Tunisia during the Ben Ali era and could lead to the impression that Algeria was practically free of the press.

In fact, the press has a certain leeway, but is also constantly threatened by representatives and henchmen of the regime. The popular, secular daily newspaper Le Matin (now only on the internet) was closed in 2004 and its editor-in-chief Mohamed Benchicou was sentenced to two years in prison on the pretext of a tax offense. In such cases, the judiciary, which is only independent on paper, often meets the expectations of those who have a say in advancement and career.

The best-known and best-known Algerian daily newspaper in terms of craftsmanship and journalism, El Watan had to answer in 2008 for insulting a provincial governor (Wali). Two journalists (including the editor) were sentenced to prison and heavily fined. In December 2016, the journalist Mohamed Tamalt died while on a hunger strike he started in prison. He had been sentenced to two years in prison for “insulting the President.” As far as can be seen, he was apparently convicted of a poem that he published on Facebook.

According to dentistrymyth, the television in Algeria is far in the hands of the state. Private providers are in the process of establishing themselves, but are under close scrutiny. For example, the Al Atlas TV channel, which had been approved for testing, was closed again due to reporting on criticism of Bouteflka’s renewed presidential candidacy. The private broadcasters are not on site, but only have editorial staff in Algiers, have been broadcasting from Jordan via the Nilsat satellite since mid-2013 and imitate the business model of Al Jazira (numidia news, El Jazaira, Ennahar TV, Echourouk TV).

Satellite television is the gateway to the world for the Algerian population anyway – huge numbers of satellite dishes are installed everywhere and allow access to Europe and the Arab world.

Algeria Press

The Internet

In Algeria the Internet is centralized, the state telecom offers different variants for private or commercial purposes, staggered according to the capacity of the connection. Private service providers have not been able to hold their own in the Telekom-dominated market. The quality of the connections is unstable, interruptions or drastic fluctuations in performance must be expected.

So far, no direct censorship measures, persecution or sanctions have come to light. There is a dense network of internet cafes in all cities from Algiers in the north to Tamanrasset on the Malian border.

The Internet does not pose a threat to the regime, as all relevant pages are not hosted in Algeria and are in any case not accessible to government agencies. Only state, semi-state or public institutions host their pages in Algeria with the state provider CERIST and the country code “.dz”. The media, which are independent from the state, do not have their Internet presence in Algeria, almost without exception, and use predominantly non-Algerian identifiers such as “elwatan.com”.

Islamist ideology, among other things, is intensively disseminated via YouTube and other channels.

Telecommunication

The cell phone network in Algeria is well developed, at least in the big cities, even if the quality leaves a lot to be desired. It is not a problem to get an Algerian cell phone number from one of the three big providers Djezzy, Nedjma (renamed Oredoo) or Telecom (Mobilis). It is common among Algerians to top up their phones with prepaid cards, which are sold everywhere.

The aforementioned providers for mobile telephony now also offer Internet access. The prices are not unaffordable, but rather high, especially for a higher data frequency (depending on DSL quality approx. 15 euros per month upwards, currently 1-8 Mbit), the quality of the connections for audiovisual data transmission is usually insufficient, e.g. for Skype but it is enough without further ado. Internet USB sticks are also offered. Overall, the country is very internet savvy. The number and density of Internet cafes is very high, and the services around the Internet, from hardware to website development, are very diverse. According to other sources, around 18.1% of Algerian households currently have an Internet connection (2014)In 2015 even 27.8% (11 million users). Accordingly, 11 million Algerians are also registered on Facebook – the use of social media is very pronounced, for example for amusement.