The logo of Lina TV is seen in one of the station's broadcasts. Algerian authorities recently took the broadcaster off the air in response to an alleged licensing issue. (YouTube/Lina TV)

Algeria shuts down Lina TV for alleged licensing issue

New York, August 18, 2021 – Algerian authorities should allow Lina TV to resume broadcasting immediately and stop using the country’s accreditation procedures as a means of censorship, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On August 16, the Ministry of Communications ordered the privately owned news channel off the air, according to news reports and a statement by the ministry. The channel is no longer broadcasting in the country or online as of today, according to local journalist and press freedom advocate Mustapha Bendjama, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.

In its statement, the ministry said the decision was based on a request from the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority, the country’s media regulator, which claimed that Lina TV had not obtained the necessary accreditation to operate in the country.

“Algerian authorities are once again using their vague and bureaucratic broadcasting authorization procedures as a means to restrict media outlets in the country,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, Sherif Mansour. “Authorities must immediately allow Lina TV to resume broadcasting, and should refrain from capriciously enforcing licensing regulations to drive broadcasters off the air.”

Since it first launched on October 1, 2020, Lina TV has broadcast a variety of general interest programs including news coverage and political and cultural talk programs, according to news reports and CPJ’s review of its programming. The station largely did not cover the anti-government protests that have taken place in Algeria since February 2019, according to Bendjama and CPJ’s review of its output.

Prior to the ban, Lina TV uploaded multiple news clips per day to its YouTube channel; its last upload was an August 17 weather report. 

CPJ emailed Lina TV for comment but did not immediately receive any response.

News outlets in Algeria are subject to difficult and bureaucratic broadcasting authorization and press accreditation procedures, according Bendjama and CPJ research. Many local outlets operate without authorizations or accreditations due to the difficulty of obtaining them, Bendjama said.

The ministry’s statement did not specify whether Lina TV had been warned about its alleged violation prior to the shutdown order.

Previously, on July 31, Algeria’s Ministry of Communications withdrew the press accreditation of Saudi news channel Al-Arabiya for allegedly spreading misinformation, as CPJ documented at the time.

CPJ emailed the Algerian Ministry of Communication and the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority for comment, but did not receive any replies.