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Algeria court blocks buyout of newspaper, TV channel


ALGIERS  – A court in Algiers ruled on Wednesday that a takeover by the country’s richest businessman of its largest Arabic-language newspaper and an affiliated TV channel should be halted.

The case was brought by the Algerian communications ministry against Ness-Prod, a subsidiary of the agribusiness group Cevital, after it acquired a 80 percent stake in the private media group El Khabar.

Cevital’s founder and chief executive, the billionaire Issad Rebrab, has said the attempts to block the takeover are politically motivated. The ministry rejects that accusation.

Rebrab is not directly involved in politics, but he has taken positions critical of the government. In addition, El Khabar is one of the more independent voices in the Algerian media, and critics see the government’s effort to block the takeover as a threat to press freedom.

The ministry’s case is based on a law that bans ownership of more than one newspaper. Rebrab already owns the French-language newspaper Liberte.

After announcing the verdict, Judge Mohamed Dahmane said both sides had one week to respond.

“This judgment is not final because we will appeal to the state council,” Sadek Chaib, a lawyer for El Khabar, told reporters outside the court.

Lawyers for the ministry expressed satisfaction. “Our efforts were fruitful,” said lawyer Nadjib Bitam.(Reuters)


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