Poll: On new Algerian TV channels

Who still watches the Algerian television outside Ramadhan? Not many I am sure.

Depending on their supposed “ideology”, most Algerians do watch European French or Arab TV channels. So, if we consider news TV, the former would watch France24 and Euronews in French, and the latter would watch al Jazeera (not any more?), France24 or Euronews in Arabic (Algerians do not like al Arabiya, al Hurra, etc.). As to the generalist, movies and musical channels, you would have those watching French channels, and those watching their Arab competitors such as LBC, NBC, MBC, TBC, etc. (not sure all these channels do exist as I am not part of either groups). There is also another group which is probably a combination of the former ones and which watches some North-African channels, mainly Moroccan and Nesma TV.

The conclusion is nobody watches the Algerian channels, and they are so right about it. Forget the pre-90s period when everyone had to watch El yatima ENTV (I am a little nostalgic about this period which created a homogeneous Algerian mind with identical television souvenirs, but that’s another topic). Now we have Allah ibarek five state TV channels, but the quality has definitely degraded esp. if you compare with the late 80s and early 90s.
I had recently the chance (?) to zap between all these channels and I almost fainted. Channel 4 (Amazigh) is probably the worst as it is a caricature of what one could find in a remote village in Tizi-Ouzou. Besides, you would think that the Amazigh culture is a combination of singing and dancing, and perhaps making pottery.  A3, my dear, I felt I was watching some alien channel (I have the same feeling when listening to Alger radio channel 1). The faces are strange, the humour is strange, everything is strange. Plus, it lacks dynamism. They’re lucky they have their sports journalists who saved their honour. Canal Algérie is a channel for nostalgic emigrants, and I mean those who left Algeria before the 80s; and don’t mention the very poor French you hear on there. ENTV, I cannot remember what it looks like. Coran TV (channel 5) is the only one which I find acceptable and which I can really watch. I am biased of course because I do not like much Iqraa and Rissala and I like the fact an Algerian channel competes tries to compete with them. Simply put, the Algerian TV is mediocre, but what do you expect from a mediocre regime’s propaganda tool?! And it’s interesting that even Bouteflika shares this opinion (he would be blind or dishonest otherwise).

Algeria has already adopted the DVB-T standard (showing Europe’s lobbying force) for terrestrial television broadcast, but it wouldn’t make any sense to deploy it with only 3 TV channels (I suppose Canal Algérie and A3 won’t be transmitted “terrestrially” or the different agreements especially on football games broadcast would be amended). This reason alone could justify the addition of more channels.

Another reason would be to counter the behaviour of channels, such as al Jazeera today or the Egyptian TV channels two years ago, which is/was perceived as attacks against Algeria, its people and its government. Algeria is unarmed in this field and cannot defend itself.

You would ask, what about democracy and pluralism? Are they not good reasons to open up the audio-visual field?

There have always been calls to open the audio-visual field to private operators and the state had always said niet. Khalifa TV’s experience, which used to broadcast from France, was used to back this decision.
But things have changed. We’ve had the little riots of early this year combined with the so-called Arab spring. This led the pouvoir to launch some “reforms”. And as part of these “reforms”, the government finally agreed to let the private operators create their own radio/TV channels.

ElKhabar already announced that it wanted to start its TV and radio channels, and so did El Watan yesterday. Other economic operators such as Haddad, Rahim or Mehri are said to be candidates as well. I would guess Rebrab will be in the list too. A few weeks before Ramadhan, an Algerian group acquired the French channel BeurTV and is slowly changing its programs to address the Algerian audience.

But then what channels do we want/need? What about the content? And do you really believe the pouvoir would let them broadcast almost anything without any control or… censorship?

Rachad wanted to launch its TV channel on satellite but never succeeded. According to this opposition organisation, the Algerian and French governments forced a French satellite services operator to refuse to broadcast Rachad’s programs. The satellite group denied this version. Remember that Rachad’s website had been banned in Algeria for some time early last year if I remember well. Radio Kalima is still banned in Algeria as far as I know.

Also, we know that independent Algerian newspapers are not really independent and it is alleged that this or that either works for the DRS or Bouteflika’s clan or God knows who. Also, the pouvoir holds them all in its hands with the public advertisement resources. So shall we have a similar situation with the radio and TV channels to be created?

I wonder if the political parties will be allowed to have their own TV channels. I am actually afraid to have something like the Egyptians. Many useless TV channels which never criticise the  pouvoir, when they do not propagate the pouvoir’s decisions. Haddad’s web TV seems to deal mainly (only?) with sports and I feel this is what our new TV channels will look like: music and sports.

So two questions to you, dear readers: Do you think the new radio/TV channels will be really free and independent from the pouvoir? And what kind of channels do you want to see?


13 thoughts on “Poll: On new Algerian TV channels

    • When I see Echourouk and imagine the TV this newspaper could create I seriously hope there will be pressure on these channels 🙂
      I forgot to add the regional/local channels in the second poll. Wonder if they’d allow such channels.

  1. I have not yet read the law authorizing these new channels (is it available?) but I am sure they will put enough roadblocks in them to prevent any attempt at real independence. One detail I am curious about is the languages these stations will use. Will we get another split along the French/Arabic divide? Will the law prohibit/restrict the use of French? Could we finally see a wider use of dardja with people expressing themselves naturally instead of attempting to use that stilted Arabic so common on ENTV?
    As for the good old days, yes I remember the time when RTA was just one channel, black and white, starting at about 5 pm with Qassaman and ending at about 11:30 (midnight in rare occasions) with a few Quran verses. Back then an episode of “Flipper the dolphin” was the highlight of the evening (except for soccer games).

    • I couldn’t find the law project either. The APN website is one season behind…

      I feel there is more dardja on state channels so I wouldn’t be surprised if a 100% dardja speaking channel is created. And as a corollary, French would have the same share it does in dardja (depending on whether it is dardja of Algiers or that of Msila for e.g.)

  2. Pour avoir personnellement consacré trois saisons d’une émission radio (consacrée aux médias et à la “culture” en général) à suivre les télés du monde entier (accessibles) mais principalement du monde arabe, de l’Algérie, d’ici et d ‘ailleurs…. à décortiquer des émissions, à suivre des documentaires, à dévoiler des messages subliminaux etc…. aujourd’hui je suis gavée de télé. Je ne la regarde plus et je n’attends rien des télés. Et je pense que la télé dans sa forme classique, avec un soi-disant programme généraliste, ou sinon spécialisé, avec une grille adaptée aux emplois du temps des jeunes et moins jeunes, et tout ce tralala est en passe de disparaitre… L’avenir est aux programmes à la carte. Et c’est pour ça qu’il vaut mieux penser à investir Internet, c’est là le média de l’avenir. Les radios d’ailleurs, comme les télés d’ailleurs 😉 ont depuis quelque temps mis leurs programmes à disposition des internautes : podcasts, pour certains même payants, mais ma3lich…. c’est à dire que nous sommes déjà dans une nouvelle ère des médias. La télé, dans sa forme classique (même la radio) est déjà dépassée.
    Donc, comme il est vain de s’acharner à vouloir obligatoirement avoir SA chaine de télé pour exister… au lieu de s’orienter vers les nouveaux médias. Il n y a qu’à voir le nombre de “mouchahadates” sur une vidéo Youtube par exemple….

    Mais pour répondre à ta question : si c’est pour avoir des El Watan, des Echourouk et des Liberté sur Ecran, très peu pour moi…. des mounawa3ates: de la danse et du chant, il y en aura à gogo (comme sur la chaine4 :-))). Du sport? et comment!!!! Des débats? oui pourquoi pas? avec Mourad Chebbine? Qui sait….

    N.B : la chaine1 de la radio algérienne est bien meilleure que la A3, même si oui, à entendre “certains” animateurs ou journalistes on se croirait sur une chaine de radio syrienne, libanaise, egyptienne…. orientale, mais pas algérienne…. mais si tu veux vraiment pleurer, il faut écouter la chaine3 (hacha elli ma yest’halhach) on se croirait la-bas chez eux… il fut un temps où la chaine3 était plus algérienne que la chaine1, tu t’imagines?
    La chaine2? je ne comprends pas la langue malheureusement (juste un peu), mais je sais que les émissions sont très algériennes et les animateurs et journalistes très sympas.

    • I agree Oumelkheir, I too seldom watch TV. But even on the new media (internet, etc.) I believe the TV operators will compete (they already do) on there and be important players so one shouldn’t just discard them. Now I don’t know what Algeria wants to do, be a global/regional player with the necessary media for this role or just fake the change and remain as is.

      Regarding your PS, I used to listen to la chaine 2 when I was very young, then la chaine 1 as soon as I learnt Arabic but very quickly switched to la chaine 3 for many years (till I left Algeria so I don’t know how it became nowadays) and yes it was not only the most Algerian but also the one with the most interesting programs. I of course missed the one you mentioned above as I was already abroad but I hear it was very interesting and had many fans 🙂 Now I am back on la chaine 2 and Radio Soummam, and sometimes El bahdja. They say erroudjou3 ila asli fadhila 🙂

  3. “Now I don’t know what Algeria wants to do, be a global/regional player with the necessary media for this role or just fake the change and remain as is.”
    Pour la première, il faut investir solidement et se donner les moyens en qualité et en quantité. La seconde est plus propbable…. il y aura de nouvelles chaines qui s’appelleront : “Al Khabariya”, “Al Wataniya”, “Al Machriquiya” :-))) ils nous feront des revues de presse à longueur d’heure, sans plus….

    “I of course missed the one you mentioned above as I was already abroad but I hear it was very interesting and had many fans :)”
    C’est ce qu’on dit, mais tu sais le “many” ne veut absolument rien dire tant que tu n’as pas de méthode fiable de calcul de l’audimat. Donc, ça reste relatif… et peut-etre que les “la-bas chez eux” ont plus de succès et plus de fans, après tout…

    “Now I am back on la chaine 2 and Radio Soummam, and sometimes El bahdja. They say erroudjou3 ila asli fadhila :)”
    Na3am, wa ni3ma erroudjou3 🙂

  4. Other questions that comes to mind: Is the new law going to impose some restrictions on the funding of these new TV channels? I am assuming we’re not going back to some kind of public envelopes like what happened (I think) with the newspapers in the early days. On the other hand how big is the advertisement market in Algeria? How many channels could it sustain? For years newspapers complained about the blackmailing they were subject to by the government because they did not have their own printing facilities and ANEP was the gateway to lucrative ads (newspaper sales were not enough to sustain the business). Is something similar going to happen with TV channels?

  5. If TSA’s article is confirmed (we’re used to such rumours) it would just show that reforms or not the pouvoir’s culture hasn’t changed.

    I was surprised at the volume of Algerian ads on Nesma TV and BeurTV. But ads won’t be the only lever. I read that the state is going to make someone rich (Rachid Ahrab from French CSA) as he’d be the consultant on this audiovisual field “opening”. The to-be-created Algerian CSA will be another way to keep everything under control.

    • Les deux présentateurs “vedette” :-))) ont à mon avis été sacrifiés sur l’autel du changement annoncé. Ils représentent trop l’ancien modèle… s’ils restent c’est que rien n’aura changé, alors… et si c’est ce sont de vrais journalistes, ils continueront à travailler dans leur domaine, normalement… wella lazem la présentation du 20h wella je ne suis pas journaliste?

      • Moi personnellement je n’aimais pas le look de geisha japonaise de Karim Boussalem, mais c’est hors sujet.
        Presenter le 20h est le top du journalisme donc a moins de devenir senateur du tier presidentiel ou depute FLN/RND je ne les vois pas trop se recaser ailleurs dans un domaine visible

  6. For someone who lives abroad, read and write is in my opinion able to understand that there is no such a thing as independent media, TV and news papers around the planet all serve a pre planed agenda.
    TV is no longer the appropriate medium for communication or information it has always been a tool for propaganda, everywhere.

    It is naive to consider that foreign broadcasters are truthfully unbiased and make all the efforts to serve you and inform you!

    • For someone who lives abroad, read and write is in my opinion able to understand that there is no such a thing as independent media,

      Are you implying that someone currently living in Algeria wouldn’t be able to understand such a thing?

      TV and news papers around the planet all serve a pre planed agenda.

      Indeed (there might be some exceptions though). But this agenda is not always a politicians’ one and that was the point clearly stated in the above poll.

      It is naive to consider that foreign broadcasters are truthfully unbiased and make all the efforts to serve you and inform you!

      I dare hope the readers of this blog are aware of this! Only this blog is unbiased and this is why everyone should keep reading it 🙂

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