Tunisia's well-developed postal, telephone, and telegraph system is government-operated and links all the important cities. A marine cable connects Tunisia with France, and a land cable links it with Algeria and Morocco. In 1997 there were 654,000 mainline telephones, with an additional 50,000 cellular phones in us by 1998.
The government-owned Tunisian Radio-Television Broadcasting (ERTT) broadcasts in Arabic, French, and Italian over one national station, one international station, and five regional stations. In 1998, there were 27 radio stations (7 AM and 20 FM). In 1995, there were 26 television stations. Relay stations bring in programs from Italian television. In 2000 there were 158 radios and 198 television sets for every 1,000 people. In 2000, there was only one Internet service provider in the country. Internet users numbered about 280,000 in 2001.
The seven major dailies, all published in Tunis, are shown in the following table, with 2002 circulations:
|As-Sabah Arabic 50,000|
|Assahafa/La Presse ArabicNA|
|Le Renouveau French 23,000|
|Al Amal Arabic 50,000|
|La Presse de Tunisie Arabic/French 40,000|
|L'Action French 40,000|
|Errai El-Am ArabicNA|
The Arabic Ach Chourouk (110,000) and the French Le Temps (42,000) are major weeklies.
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press. However, the government is said to limit these freedoms significantly through economic control, confiscations, imprisonment, and detention. Government permits are required for distribution of publications. Criticism of high government officials or fundamental state institutions can result in seizure or suspension of the offending publication.