Skyline: Algerian Government’s Financial Pressure On Print Press Is An Appalling Violation Of Freedom Of Press
Algeria decision to exert financial pressure on independent print press as a punishment for publishing Skyline International.
The government’s cut of advertising from public companies may further worsen the already aggravating financial crisis of print press, the Stockholm-based Skyline states.
In the last four years, about 60 newspapers have been suspended, and more are also at risk due to the declining sales, lack of government ads and Algerian’s ongoing economic crisis. In 2004, the National Office of Statistics referred to a significant decline in the number of copies of the most-read Algerian newspapers due to the decline of sales.
Hadda Hazem, director of the Al Fajr newspaper, went on a hunger strike on Monday to protest the Algerian authorities’ decision to cut advertising from her newspaper 3 months ago for publishing political material that opposes the government’s policy.
Director of Al Tanweer magazine, Yaqoub Abu Qreit, has been on a hunger strike since October 22nd, which marks the national day of press, to protest the government’s ban of ads.
Provided with enough shares of ads and getting preferential treatment in printing sites under the government’s support, government newspapers are less affected by the ongoing financial crisis in Algeria regardless of low sales on their part.
Given that official advertising is equivalent to more than $170 million, Abdelaziz Rehabi, former Information Minister in Algeria says, “this money is enough to restrict and put pressure on rogue press in the absence of transparency and distribution of advertising.”
Such practices of financial pressure on independent print pressing restrict civil liberties, freedom of opinion and expression, and violate freedom of press and media, Skyline adds, stressing that public money is the right of all citizens and should be spent within accurate and transparent procedures rather than in violation of the freedom of the press and by silencing journalists’ voices.
Skyline International calls on the Algerian Government to promote licenses for private media and constitute a unified and just law relating to the distribution of advertising on private newspapers without any restrictions on the freedom of the press.