Panafrican News Agency

Television, radio stations closed down in Tunisia

Tunis, Tunisia (PANA) - Three weeks after the television channel "Zitouna", close to the Islamist movement Ennahdha, two other stations, "Nessma TV" and a radio "Al Qoran Al Karim" (The Holy Quran), were closed on Wednesday by the Independent High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HAICA).

A statement issued by the HAICA justified these decisions by the fact that these stations, described as "illegal", were broadcasting without a license, despite calls and correspondence sent to them over several years to regularize their situation in accordance with the law governing the audiovisual sector.

The premises of these two institutions have been sealed and their equipment seized thanks to the intervention of the police, Hichem Senoussi, a member of the HAICA council, told PANA.

According to him, their managers have so far flouted the law governing the audiovisual sector because they benefited from the political coverage of ruling parties, namely Ennahdha and Qalb Tounès (At the heart of Tunisia), which is headed by his ally Nabil Karoui.

He denied any political connotation to HAICA's decision or any link to the agenda of President Kaïs Saied.

"Personally, I wish the operation (of closing the two stations) had not taken place," he said.

The Nessma channel belongs to controversial businessman Nabil Karoui, a former presidential candidate.

Prosecuted in cases of money laundering and tax evasion, he is currently on the run in Algeria.

As for the radio station "La Saint Qoran", it is owned by the no less controversial deputy Saïd Jaziri.

While admitting that the two channels were outside the regulatory framework and that it was "important to apply the law", the president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists (SNJT) argued that their closure "is not the solution".

He called on their managers to regularize their situation and on HAICA to take this into account because, he argued, "Tunisia needs a pluralist media landscape, but one that is governed by the law".

-0- PANA BB/IS/BBA/RA 27Oct2021