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Study Finds Decline In Global Press Freedom

PRESS RELEASE - INTERNATIONAL
29 April 2005

Freedom House study finds decline in global press freedom

SOURCE: Freedom House, New York

(Freedom House/IFEX) - The following is a 27 April 2005 Freedom House press release:

STUDY FINDS DECLINE IN GLOBAL PRESS FREEDOM

Despite Some Gains, Setbacks in a Number of Key Countries, Including the United States

NEW YORK, April 27, 2005 -- While press freedom registered important gains in some key countries in 2004, notable setbacks occurred in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas, according to a major study released today by Freedom House. Increased restrictions were also detected in parts of Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union.

The study, "Freedom of the Press 2005: A Global Survey of Media Independence," revealed that gains outnumbered setbacks, as measured by shifts among the survey's three main categories: Free, Partly Free and Not Free. Improvements took place in countries where new democratic openings have been achieved or are burgeoning, such as in Ukraine and Lebanon. Several countries in the Middle East showed positive trends.

However, the overall level of press freedom worldwide -- as measured by global average score -- worsened, continuing a three-year downward trend according to the survey. Notable setbacks took place in Pakistan, Kenya, Mexico, Venezuela, and in the world's most powerful democracy, the United States.

While the United States remained one of the strongest performers in the survey, its numerical score declined due to a number of legal cases in which prosecutors sought to compel journalists to reveal sources or turn over notes or other material they had gathered in the course of investigations. Additionally, doubts concerning official influence over media content emerged with the disclosures that several political commentators received grants from federal agencies, and that the Bush administration had significantly increased the practice of distributing government-produced news segments.

"Even in established democracies, press freedom should not be taken for granted," said Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor. "It must be defended and nurtured."

Data from the report and detailed country narratives are available online at http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/pressurvey.htm

The report was released in advance of World Press Freedom Day, on May 3.

The survey, first launched in 1980, assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and Internet freedom in every country in the world. It assigns each country a numerical score from 0 to 100 that determines a category rating of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free. Ratings are determined by examining three broad categories: the legal environment in which media operate, political influences on reporting and access to information, and economic pressures on content and the dissemination of news. The survey analyzes events during the 2004 calendar year.

For further information, contact Karin Deutsch Karlekar (x14) or Michael Goldfarb (x12), Freedom House, 120 Wall Street, New York, NY 10005, U.S.A., tel: +1 212 514 8040, fax: +1 212 514 8055, e-mail: karlekar@freedomhouse.org, Internet: http://www.freedomhouse.org/

The information contained in this press release is the sole responsibility of Freedom House. In citing this material for broadcast or publication, please credit Freedom House.

DISTRIBUTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION EXCHANGE (IFEX) CLEARING HOUSE 489 College Street, Suite 403, Toronto (ON) M6G 1A5 CANADA tel: +1 416 515 9622, fax: +1 416 515 7879 alerts e-mail: alerts@ifex.org general e-mail: ifex@ifex.org Internet site: http://www.ifex.org/

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