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Tuesday 20.02.2018 | Name days: Smuidra, Vitauts, Smuidris

Global press freedom index at its lowest in the last 16 years

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Аuthor: PantherMedia/SCANPIXThe number of people that have access to free mass media has dropped to the lowest index in the last 16 years, according to the latest annual report of the American non-governmental Freedom House organization.

Latvia is on the 55-60 place among 197 countries. Lithuania is on the 40-44 place, while Estonia is on the 13-18 place in the global rating. The media industry of all Baltic countries is considered free.

After having reviewed the situation in the last five years, Freedom House has concluded that the downslide of the countries’ press freedom greatly exceeds positive trends. This shows that attempts to limit the freedom of the press sector are widely spread and that the challenges for media variety and information availability are still significant.

The organization explains this with the current unstable situation in the world: the conflict in Mali, the situation in Greece and control over media in Latin America.

The achievements in regard to media freedom in the Middle East and North Africa are still questionable. While it was successful in Tunisia and Libya, the situation in Egypt has deteriorated, according to Freedom House.

According to the president of Freedom House David J. Kramer, ever since the riots in the Middle East two years ago, there have been attempts of the authoritarian governments to suffocate open political dialogues on the Internet and outside.

His organization has concluded that Syria’s government continues to limit the coverage of the conflict by the media and spreads misleading information using government TV channels. Journalists and bloggers are forced to work in a dangerous environment in order to report actual developments.

However the reduction of centralized control in different regions has allowed local residents to be involved in reporting developing events and created an opportunity to form new media expenses and reduce the volume of self-censorship, as concluded in the report of Freedom House.

The situation in Russia and China re no better: critics in these countries are often detained, imprisoned or sued; media organizations are either shut down or heavily censored.

A similar situation is found in Iran and Venezuela. Russia’s level, however, has cast a shadow over the whole of Eurasia, Freedom House concludes.

Only 63 (32%) of 197 countries are considered free for media, 70 (36%) are considered “partially free”, while 64 (42%) are considered censored.

Freedom House says that less than 14% of the world’s human population live in countries that have free media. 43% of the population have access to partially free media, while 43% live in countries that have heavily censored media.

The number of people that have access to free media had reduced by 0.5% in 2012, dropping to the lowest level since 1996.

The number of people that live in countries that have censored media has increased by 2.5%.

According to Freedom House, the category change is related to the economic pressure exacted on the media, as well as general financial difficulties in many regions of the world.

“The political unrest caused by the European crisis and the financial pressure have negatively affected the media freedom in Greece”, – said in Freedom House‘s report.

The situation in Latin America has worsened as well – the number of countries with censored media industry has reached its peak since 1989.

The organization considers the media to be free in the United States, but warns nonetheless that the poor economic situation in the industry creates risks for media variety. There are also concerns for the lack of protection for information sources on the federal level.

According to the organization, the situation with media freedom is dramatic in Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Norway’s Sweden’s media industries are considered the most transparent and open.

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