YPC Weekly Newsletter



On May 1 “Freedom House” international human rights organization published
its annual report on freedom of press in the world in 2008. The media situation
was assessed by “Freedom House” assigning a numerical score from 1 to 100 by
the following categories: free (1-30 points), partly free (31-60 points), not
free (61-100) – the lower the score, the higher the freedom. The latter was
defined by three dimensions: legal environment in which media operate; political
environment – the degree of political control over the content of news; economic
environment in which media operate. The sum of the three dimensions yielded
the cumulative rating of the media situation in each country.

Out of 195 countries and territories surveyed in 70 (or 36%) media were recognized
free, in 61 (or 31%) – partly free and in 64 (or 33%) were rated not free. 17%
of the world’s inhabitants live in countries that enjoy free press, 41% have
a partly free press, and 42% have not free press. “Freedom House” notes the
overall negative shift in media freedom worldwide. The list is singly topped
by Iceland – 9 points, followed by Finland and Norway – 10 points each, Denmark
and Sweden – 11 points each.

Of the post-Soviet countries only the press of the three Baltic States is recognized
by “Freedom House” to be free, and only Ukraine (55 points) and Georgia (60
points) are classed as partly free since 2004. At the same time, the situation
of freedom of expression in Ukraine has somewhat deteriorated comparing with
2007 (53 points), while the points of Georgia remain the same. Other countries
of the former USSR remain unfree. Turkmenistan still has 96 points, being in
the second rank from the end and getting ahead of only North Korea (98). Also
as compared to 2007, the rankings of Kazakhstan (78) and Belarus (91) have note
changed neither. The indexes of other countries have deteriorated a little:
Moldova – 67 points (versus 66 in 2007), Kyrgyzstan – 72 (versus 70), Azerbaijan
– 78 (versus 77), Tajikistan – 78 (versus 77), Russia – 80 (versus 78), Uzbekistan
– 93 (versus 92).

The ranking of Armenia in 2008 has moved down, too – 68 points (versus 66 in
2007). The Armenian media remain to be classed as not free for seven years already,
since 2002. “Freedom House” explains the deterioration of freedom of expression
situation in Armenia, first of all, by two facts: during the state of emergency
in March 2008 “government censored all media for several weeks and obstructed
the work of both local and foreign journalists”, and authorities declared a
moratorium on broadcast licensing competitions until July 2010.