Tunisian authorities signaled today that 12 new private radio stations are likely to be granted broadcasting licences soon. Neji Bghouri, president of the National Union of Tunisian Journalists, told AFP that the 12 stations are expected to get the green light “in a few days”.
Kamel Laabidi, who heads the national panel supervising the reform of news and communication (INRIC), said the body had recommended to the prime minister’s office that the licences be granted. The 12 include Radio Kalima, which had been operating clandestinely under the rule of ousted president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. Radio Kalima’s director Omar Mestiri began a hunger strike on 21 June to demand that a licence is granted to his station. INRIC however chided Mr Mestiri for failing, unlike other candidates, to present a complete licence application and for acting as if his station deserved special treatment.
Freedom of expression was one of the most important demands of the weeks of street protests that forced out Ben Ali in January.