Confiscation of the property of Ben Ali and the people close to him
After the revolution, Decree-Law No. 2011-13 of 14 March 2011, provided for the confiscation "in favour of the Tunisian State ... of all movable and immovable properties and rights acquired after November 7, 1987" of Ben Ali and the people close to him. 148 cars, 480 properties, 544 companies, 65,000 transportable goods, 169,224,246 shares and 123,823,854 Dinars were seized.
A National Management Committee (Decree-Law No. 2011-68 of 14 July 2011), composed of representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of State Property and Lands, Ministry of Justice and of the Presidency of the Government is responsible for the management of the seized goods. Its responsibilities include the maintenance of the level of activity of the confiscated companies, the sale of confiscated property, appointment of state representatives in the management board of the concerned companies. 64 of the seized companies are under the management of Al Karama Holding (former Princess Holding).
Among the confiscated companies, 16 (around 3%) are companies linked to the media, among these are the companies owning Zitouna FM (100%), Dar Assabah (79,62%), Shems FM (70%), Mosaïque FM (13,27%) and Hannibal TV (10%).
Moreover, among the audio-visual production companies is Cactus Prod., 51% owned by the state and 49% by Sami Fehri. This company worked directly with the TV station Ettounsyia which has become Al Hiwar Ettounsi.
The future of the confiscated media
According to the communications officer of the Presidency of the Government, the state should sell almost all the confiscated shares held in the capital of media companies. Only Zitouna FM is being nationalised to become a public radio. This decision was taken as the state wants to retain control over the religious radio to prevent it from disseminating extremist messages.
Overall, the sale of confiscated goods takes place very slowly. Currently, only 7 of 544 companies (the state is a minority shareholder in 153 of them and 136 have ceased their activities) were sold.
Specifications shall regulate the sale of Dar Assabah and Shems FM, two media in which the state has a majority of the shares. According to the Presidency of the Government, these specifications are being developed in consultation with the respective unions of the journalists. This statement is in contrast to a strike of journalists of Shems FM that took place on 3 May 2016 on the issue. They demanded, among others, the participation of their union in the drafting of the specifications for the sale of the confiscated shares (70%). According to several sources, this transition is not favourable to the development of these media companies as they have less leeway than private enterprises.
A guide on the procedure to sell confiscated property and shares issued by the Ministry of Finance determines the terms of sale for the companies. The guide contains no specific clauses for media companies nor does it provide for any measures related to concentration risk. This general guide foresees, however, the publication of guides for specific types of companies.