Freedom of the Press is an annual report on media independence around the world, produced by Freedom House, a watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world.
The report assesses the degree of print, broadcast and digital media freedom in 199 countries and territories.
Freedom of the Press 2016, key findings
• Press freedom in 2015 declined to lowest point in 12 years.
• Report blames political, criminal and terrorist forces behind efforts to silence media.
• Loss of press freedom primarily linked to heightened partisanship in many countries, and the degree of extralegal intimidation and physical violence faced by journalists.
What is a free press? Area where political news is robust, safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures.
31: percentage of countries with a free press
36: percentage with a partly free press
33: percentage with no free press
13: percentage of world's population that lives with a free press
41: percentage that lives with a partly free press
46: percentage that lives with no free press
10 worst countries and territories
Belarus, Crimea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan
Countries with largest 1-year decline in press freedom
Bangladesh, Turkey, Burundi, France, Serbia, Yemen, Egypt, Macedonia and Zimbabwe
Report cites the tiny Pacific island nation as the country with the largest loss of press freedom because it began assessing thousands of dollars in fees against journalists wanting to enter the country or blocking their entry altogether, apparently in an effort to silence reports about migrants being held in Nauru who are seeking asylum in Australia.
Bright points in report
Report found two countries moved to ease restrictions on journalists in 2015.
Sri Lanka: After new government was installed, fewer threats and attacks aimed at journalists, and blocks against Internet websites were lifted.
Burkina Faso: Officials dropped prison sentences as punishment for libel, and state interference in news content was curtailed, the report found.
Dangerous issues for media coverage
• Organized crime
• Environment/land development
• Disputed Sovereignty
• Lese-majeste (injured magesty)
Countries to watch
The report attributed the declines to a rise in the authoritarian nature of some governments, such as those in Tajikistan, Egypt and Turkey; security situations that have become more dangerous, such as in Libya, Yemen and Burundi; blasphemy laws, such as in Brunei, and tighter government control of state-owned media, such as Poland.
72: Number of countries showing a decline in freedom for the year
43: Number of countries that made gains.
Middle East and North Africa region: Received the worst ratings for press freedom, followed closely by Eurasia.
Internet freedom declined for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, report finds.
• Censored information of public interest
• Expanded surveillance
• Cracked down on privacy tools
Source: Freedom of the Press 2016, Freedom House