On April 28 the international human rights organization “Freedom House” published the annual global survey of media independence in 2003.
“Press freedom suffered a substantial worldwide decline in 2003” is the main conclusion of the researchers who evaluated the media situation in 193 countries of the world. Legal harassment, political pressure and violence against journalists combined to worsen conditions in many countries, resulting in the second consecutive year of global decline in freedom for news media, “Freedom House” stressed.
The situation with the media was evaluated using the numerical scale from 1 to 100 based on the following criteria: free (1-30 points), partly free (31-60), not free (61-100) – the lower the score the higher the degree of freedom. The freedom of press was evaluated along three dimensions: legislation influencing media; political pressure, control and violence towards media; economic pressure and control over media. The sum of the scores along the three dimensions yielded the aggregate rating of the condition of media in a country.
In 2003 the rating of Armenia made 64 points. In other words, the Armenian media remain in “not free” category where they found themselves in 2002, having scored 65 points. The insignificant difference in the evaluation of the press freedom situation in Armenia in 2003 versus 2002 is due to the somewhat improved legislation.
As to the CIS overall, “other than in Georgia, the situation remained deeply troubled”. Having scored 54 points, similarly to 2002, the Georgian media retain the characteristics of partly free ones, while the Moldova was unable to do it and entered the category of “not free” press (63). The somewhat improved situation in Azerbaijan (71 points versus 73 in 2002) did not impact the general picture of the media in this country as they remain not free. The media of other CIS countries also remain in this category. The most unfavorable ones are the ratings of Turkmenistan (95), Uzbekistan and Belarus (84 each).