The Legislative Framework for Freedom of Audiovisual Communication in Tunisia: between Reality and Aspirations

Media plays a vital role in defending human rights. Establishing an independent, pluralistic, and professional media is therefore pivotal in achieving the goals of the Tunisian democratic transition process. However, the negative legacy of the old regime in Tunisia, which manipulated media to make of it one of the pillars of the tyrannical system by transforming it into a tool for propaganda,
falsification and distortion against dissent, presents a challenge to this. The regulation of media was previously inclined towards restricting freedoms. Though the 1959 Constitution enshrines freedom of the press and of expression under Article 8, the legislation regulating the sector was repressive and incomplete, lacking specific provisions for audiovisual communication, with the exception of those related to the national radio and television.1 During the revolution, the media scene witnessed many transformations that opened the door for significant reforms, which were launched on 2 November 2011 with Decree-Law No. 115 of 2011 on Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Printing and Freedom of Publication and Decree-Law No. 116 of 2011 relating to Freedom of Audiovisual Communication and the creation of an independent higher authority for audio-visual communication, in addition to the constitutional provisions of 27 January 2014 relating to Freedom of Expression and the Media2 . However, the reform process faced numerous obstacles, since the ruling of the
“Troika” government in 2011. These obstacles are the lack of political will to reform the media, especially putting the public audiovisual media under threat, that resulted in negative effects on the sustainability of media institutions and on the principle of abstention from
political tensions, in addition to the precarious situation of journalists at the professional and socio-economic levels. In this context, this briefing sets out the legislative context for freedom of audiovisual communication in Tunisia, highlighting existing reforms, areas of fragility and those areas where reform faces obstacles from legislative failures and initiatives within the Assembly of Representatives of the People.

 

Law Number 33 of 2007 dated June 4th 2007 on public audio-visual enterprises 1

Articles 31,32,49,125,an 127 of Tunisia Constitution2

 

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