State of the media



In Arab Mass Media (2004), William A. Rugh classified the Algerian press as being under a “transitional system” as far as the print media are concerned, "because it has undergone steady change for more than a decade, and because the system itself still remains under debate, and appears to be unsettled.”

The transitional system contains “strong elements favoring governmental controls over the press, alongside elements that provide some measure of freedom of expression and diversity.

It is characteristic of this "transitional system" that cases involving journalists are frequently brought to court.

Print media
Algeria has about forty daily or weekly publications and most of them have a circulation of less than 15,000 copies. Only four newspapers are estimated having a circulation of more than 50,000 copies: El Khabar (530,000), Le Quotidien d’Oran (195,000), LibertéEl-Watan (70,000).

The estimated number of readers is about three million, or 9 percent of the population.

The majority of the press is private. The three largest newspapers are owned and managed by employees.

As of 2004, the Algerian press was considered pluralistic when it comes to providing content opposing the government's point of view. Social and economical problems were highlighted in the press. Many of the political parties, including the Islamic parties, expressed their views in the independent press. The independent press also published and reported about human rights issues and abuses and some NGO activities related to human rights were given coverage.

Audiovisual media
The state-run Radio et Television Algérienne operates the major broadcast media, consisting of one domestic television station, Enterprise Nationale de Television (ENTV), and Radio Algérienne, which operates four national radio stations and about twenty local ones. ENTV also oversees the two state-run satellite stations, Canal Algérie, broadcasting to the Algerian community in Europe, and Al Thalitha TV, which broadcasts to Arab countries.

The state is the only domestic actor in radio and television broadcasting.

Two Algerian-owned satellite TV stations broadcast from Paris: BRTV, targeting the Berber population in Algeria, and Khalifa TV are available via satellite.

Satellite dishes are widespread. It is estimated that more than sixty percent of Algerian households have access to European and other Arab channels via satellite.
Algerian national television is losing viewers.

Radio from abroad is popular with about eight million regular listeners according to government estimates.

Online media
Internet services first became available in Algeria in 1993. As of July 2006, there are some three million Internet users. The majority of users access the Internet via the more than 5,000 Internet cafés.

Several of the daily newspapers have websites.

The telecommunications market is dominated by the Algeria Telecom Company, a state-owned company that provides both sattelite and terrestrial telecommunications services in Algeria. Orascom Telecom and Telecom Egypt acquired licenses to build a terrestrial phone network in 2005.

The internet is relatively free from government interference in Algeria. However, there is frequent blocking of political websites.

According to the 1998 Telecommunications decree, ISP's are responsible for the content on the websites they host and must prevent access to content deemed harmful to public order and morality.


News agencies
Algeria has two news agencies, the Algérie Presse Service and the Agence Algérienne d’Information. The former is state-run; the latter is independent.


Media organizations
The main union of Algerian journalists is the Syndicat National des Journalistes, which is a member of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). The Syndicat is not completely independent of the government and has lost some of its credibility during the violence of the Nineties.


Media policies
The Algerian media are governed by the 1990 Information Code  (Law number 90 to 97) and its various decrees, as well as articles in the Penal Code. The Penal Code articles and the Information Code were last amended in 2001.

T
here is no pre-censorship of the media, but self-censorship is common. Article 144b of the Penal Code, imposes prison terms of up to twelve month and fines of up to 250.000 Dinars (about  2,700 EUR) for insulting or defaming the president, members of the parliament, judges and the army.