Tunisia: Private TV, radio channels banned from electoral debates

Tunisian flags
Tunisian flags flying half-mast after seven days of national mourning have been declared for death of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, in Tunis, Tunisia on 25 July 2019

Only state owned media in Tunisia can hold debates between candidates looking to run in the country’s upcoming elections.

In a joint decision to set rules on the coverage of the presidential and legislative election campaigns by the media, the Independent High Electoral Commission (ISIE) and the High Independent Commission for Audiovisual Media (HAICA), banned private TV channels and radio stations from holding debates between candidates for the presidential elections in Tunisia, restricting this right to the official radio and television outlets.

Private stations can however air debates conducted on state television.

The decision comes as seven privately owned television stations and 13 radio stations had agreed to organise and air debates between candidates ahead of the presidential race.

The head of the High Independent Authority of the Audiovisual Commission (HAICA), Nouri El-Lajmi, said the new policy wasn’t aimed at excluding media outlets but rather was a means of regulating coverage.

Tunisia will hold its parliamentary election on 6 October and a presidential vote starting on 10 November.

This year’s elections will be the third round of national voting since Tunisia’s 2011 revolutiontoppled longtime leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.