Algeria Protests Loosen Stranglehold On Media

(@FahadShabbir)

Algeria protests loosen stranglehold on media

Algiers, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 17th Apr, 2019 ) :Weeks of anti-government protests have helped Algerian journalists shake off the chokehold of state-imposed censorship but their work remains complicated and is often contested by demonstrators.

After the first protests erupted in February, journalists working for state media complained that their bosses had imposed a news blackout on the rallies against Abdelaziz Bouteflika's bid to seek a fifth presidential term.

The protests have since become headline news on both private and public television channels, with live footage of nationwide demonstrations.

On a recent Friday, the main day of protests, however, television crews were shouted down and cursed by demonstrators as "arse kissers".

"It reflects the hatred" protesters feel for the main private television channels because they totally ignored the first rallies, said Khaled Drareni of Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The lack of coverage triggered shock in Algeria where private channels are usually quick off the mark and often run live reports.

But they are mostly owned by businessmen close to Bouteflika.

These media outlets "have tried to redeem themselves" by zooming in on the protests, said Drareni, who himself is a journalist, but they also report on alleged "manipulation" of the protest movement.

A small revolt has been brewing within the public sector media, with many journalists saying they refuse to be silenced.

Over the past week, dozens of journalists employed by state radio and television have staged their own sit-in demanding more freedom.

Journalists from EPTV, the public television company, gather weekly, chanting "free television" or covering their mouths with their hands to denounce censorship.

"There has been change, there are small windows that have opened," said Imene Khemici of EPTV at a protest.

"We now have two specialised programmes where we can invite people from different political persuasions, people from the opposition who can speak openly."

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