Russian Media Law Institute published its annual report “On the Media-Related Legislation in the Countries of CIS and Baltic States”. The purpose of the study is to determine the development level of the national legislative frameworks in the context of legal guarantees of mass communication freedom. In the report preparation the legislation was analyzed as of October 1, 2005, also drawing on the data of the similar research for the last year (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, June 18-24, 2004).
The comparative analysis the CIS countries and Baltic states was made along 22 sections, starting from constitutional provisions up to norms that regulate the issues of professional activity (protection of information sources, media production import, restrictions on advertising, self-regulation, etc.)
The level of the media in a specific country was assessed by a 12-unit scale and along the following criteria: constitutional provision for media freedom and the prohibition of censorship; the presence of laws on media, access to information, TV and radio broadcasting, public service broadcasting, state support of media; the nature of procedure for media registration; absence of restrictions on foreign ownership of media; absence of prohibition on publication/broadcasting in minority languages; absence of criminal libel and/or insult and separately – for officials.
Similarly to the last year, in 2005 none of the 15 countries of the former USSR received maximal number of points (12). The rating list was headed by Georgia (10 points), the media legislation of which was recognized to be the most liberal. Thus, as compared to 2004 (4 points), this year Georgia made a drastic jump upwards, bypassing the last year leader, Estonia, who scored 8.5 points (9 in 2004). The two countries are followed by Ukraine (8 points in 2005 and 7 – in 2004).
Lithuania and Moldova that in 2004 were among the countries with the high level of media legislative regulation (7 points each) went down to above average level in 2005 (6.5 units each). The indicators of Latvia improved as compared to last year (7.5 units in 2005, and 5 – in 2004), and so did the position of Azerbaijan (7 units in 2005 and 4 – in 2004).
Unlike its neighbors in South Caucasus, Armenia remains in the group with an average level of media-legislation: 5.5 units in 2005 and 5 in 2004. There is also little improvement in 2005 versus 2004 in Tajikistan (6 points in 2005 and 5 – in 2004) and in Uzbekistan (5 points in 2005 and 4 – in 2004). The situation in Russia is unchanged (4 points), while Kyrgyzstan went up slightly (4 units in 2005 versus 3 – in 2004).
Belarus, on the contrary, lost one unit, scoring 3 points in 2005 versus 4 in 2004, thus finding itself among the countries with the lowest level of media regulation. This, similarly to 2004, is characteristic of Kazakhstan (2 points in 2005 and 3 – in 2004) and Turkmenistan (2 points).