Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Algeria to end State control of media

In what many consider a strategic move, Algeria has said it is in the process of making huge media reforms in order to allow private radio and television stations for the first time since the country gained independence in 1962. The move follows months of popular, if small, protests against high unemployment, governmental corruption and dearth of democratic freedoms.

The government has also reportedly agreed to drop prison time for journalists convicted of libel. Speaking about the proposed changes, President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said they would enhance democracy. He added that they would come into play once the parliament ratified the reforms. The cabinet said the reforms were part of a package announced by Bouteflika on 15th April.

During the address, Bouteflika said the government would publish a new information law and amend the constitution to "strengthen democracy". Additionally, the cabinet also said it would set up a new commission, which would include journalist, to regulate the media. It would also have the task of approving new press licenses and imposing fines for libel. Any media that was thought to threaten state security, however, would be banned or temporarily suspended.

Sources: BBC News, Reuters, WSJ

For more news and expert analysis about Algeria, please see Algeria Focus and Algeria Politics & Security.

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