Tunisian police switch off broadcasts of private TV station

The channel called the measure an attempt to silence its criticism of government.
Thursday 25/04/2019
Tunisian security forces arrive to close down the private Nessma television channel on April 25, 2019 in Rades, southeast the capital Tunis. (AFP)
Tunisian security forces arrive to close down the private Nessma television channel on April 25, 2019 in Rades, southeast the capital Tunis. (AFP)

TUNIS - Tunisian police stormed the offices of a private television station and cut it off the air on Thursday over accusations it had breached broadcasting rules, which the channel called an attempt to silence its voice criticising the government. Dozens of members of the security forces stormed the headquarters of Nessma television, switched off its transmissions and seized equipment, journalists at the station told Reuters.

The move followed a ruling by broadcasting regulator HAICA, which revoked the channel's licence last year.

The HAICA had fined the channel for broadcasts the body described as exploiting poor people and promoting the political agenda of the channel's owner, businessman Nabil Karoui.

The channel rejected the fines and said it did not recognise the rulings by the body, which it said were motivated in response to the broadcaster's criticism of the government. The government has denied any responsibility for rulings by the HAICA.

Officials at Nesma were not immediately available to comment on Thursday's raid. The channel's website said it was being punished for its criticism of the government and coverage of anti-government protests. 

(Reuters)