Russian Media Law and Policy Institute published the results of a comparative study of media legislation of CIS and Baltic States in 2006. 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. Similar analysis was made during the two previous years (see YPC Weekly Newsletter, October 14-20, 2005).
The level of the media in a specific country was assessed by 13 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 (establishment) of media; absence of prohibition on publication/broadcasting in minority languages; absence of criminal libel and/or insult and separately – for officials, as well as for the president of the country.
Similarly to the last year, in 2006 none of the former USSR countries received maximal number of points (13). Georgia (11 points in 2006 versus 10 in 2005), Estonia (9.5 units in 2006 versus 8.5 in 2005) and Ukraine (9 points in 2006 versus 8 in 2005) retained the leading positions – as countries with the most liberal media legislation.
Such is also the picture in the group of countries whose media legislation is above average: Latvia (8.5 points in 2006 versus 7.5 in 2005), Moldova (8 points in 2006 versus 6.5 in 2005), Lithuania (7.5 points in 2006 versus 6.5 in 2005) and Azerbaijan, having the same score of 7.
The composition of the countries with an average level of media legislation did not change either. This category still includes Armenia (6.5 points in 2006 versus 5.5 in 2005). It is followed by Tajikistan (6 points in both 2006 and 2005), Kyrgyzstan (5.5 points in 2006 versus 4 in 2005), Uzbekistan (5 points in both 2006 and 2005), and Russia (5 points in 2006 versus 4 in 2005).
The lowest level of media regulation remains in Belarus (3 points), Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan (2 points each), the indicators of which remained unchanged.
“Certainly, the existence of this or that law is not a guarantee of media freedom. The quality of the law is important, the restrictions and guarantees of media freedom that it contains. However, the mere existence (or absence) of legal norms, approved by the national parliament, means an establishment of certain and long-term rules of conduct that make the life of media still simpler than in a situation, when the rules change everyday by the wish of state officials who are unrestricted by legal requirements and are hence uncontrollable”, the research of the Institute of Media Law and Policy concludes.