Digital media

A proposed new law to regulate the broadcast and online media was approved by the cabinet and submitted to parliament in December 2010. The draft law is principally aimed at defining the conditions under which private radio and television would be allowed to exist. However, it also aims to regulate news websites based inside Yemen. Under the terms of the draft law, the government would charge a fee of 20m riyals (approximately US$90,000), for a licence to set up and run a news website. Few independent operators could afford such a sum until now. Several political parties and news organisations have established an online presence.

About 200 Yemeni news websites are accessible from within the country, but limited public access to computers and government filtering of Internet content make it difficult for ordinary Yemenis to take full advantage of them. Many of the news websites are government-controlled, Others are propaganda mouthpieces for various opposition groups.

There are a number of professionally designed pro-government sites that concentrate on news from particular regions or governorates. These include: Akhbar al-Janub (News of the South), Lahj News, Ibb News and SaadahPress.

At the time of Saleh’s previous government (2009), a number of independent and opposition news websites were shut down. These included the news websites Al-Shura.net and Ishtiraki.net, Adenpress.com and the websites of four independent newspapers: Al-Ayyam, Al-Taghyir, Al-Masdar and Al-Wasat. Furthermore, the Yemeni government also blocked Yemenhurra.net, a website that covered the Saada conflict.

Several opposition parties also have their own websites which feature a combination of news and information about the organisation. These include Al-Sahwa (The Awakening), the official website of Islah. Al Masdar Online, the news website of the independent weekly newspaper Al-Masdar, is also very popular, possibly the most popular website of the last years.

Websites reflecting extra-parliamentary opposition or dissident viewpoints tend to be based outside the country. Many do not disclose their location.