Algeria: Press Freedom Group Condemns Censorship As Algeria Bans French TV Channel

In a move denounced as censorship by Reporters Without Borders, the Algerian Ministry of Communications says it will “no longer authorise” the private French television channel M6 to operate in Algeria. This follows the broadcast by M6 of a “distorted” documentary on the anti-government protest movement Hirak.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, the ministry described the documentary “L’Algérie, le pays de toutes les révoltes” (Algeria, country of revolt) as “giving a distorted take on Hirak” and that the film crew had used “fake authorisation” to complete their film.

“This has led us to decide to no longer allow M6 to operate in Algeria, under any form whatsoever,” the Ministry declared, vowing to press charges against the crew.

Fake authorisation to film

The 75-minute report was broadcast on Sunday on Enquête exclusive (Exclusive investigation).

It featured interviews – some using hidden cameras – with three young Algerians talking about the future of their country since the Hirak popular uprising brought down long-time president Abdelaziz Bouteflika in April 2019.

According to the ministry statement, the report was made by a French-Algerian journalist with the help of an Algerian fixer.

The ministry found fault with the report’s “insipid testimonies”, “misleading images” and a “host of anecdotes with no depth”.

But above all, it claimed the team had not been authorised to make such a documentary.

On 6 March 2020, the editorial staff of M6 requested press accreditation, according to the ministry, with a view to filming a documentary on “the enhancement of economic and tourist development in the city of Oran, as well as multiculturalism which contributes to our country’s wealth”.

In using “fake authorisation” the filmmakers had “committed an offence” which would be “severely sanctioned” said the statement.

The ministry promised to press charges against the authors of the report.

One of the interviewees, a renowned Algerian YouTubeuse known as Noor, took to social media on Monday to express regret at having taken part in the documentary, criticising the channel’s “lack of professionalism”.

#Algérie : un documentaire d’#EnqueteExclusive sur le Hirak entraîne pour @M6 l’interdiction de travailler en Algérie et des menaces de sanctions pénales contre ses auteurs. Cela s’appelle de la #censure et c’est un aveu de faiblesse du pouvoir. – Christophe Deloire (@cdeloire) September 22, 2020