Two-Thirds of Countries Worldwide Claim Media FreedomBy: Mike Fossum - March 30, 2012
According to a recent poll, roughly two-thirds of adults surveyed from 133 countries and regions say that they enjoy a lot of media freedom. This median has gone essentially unchanged since a similar poll was conducted in 2010 – 67% of those surveyed said their media was free, as compared to the 65% from the more recent poll. Views of media freedom vary worldwide, ranging from 23% in Belarus to 97% in Finland.
Countries with the lowest perceived media freedom lie in regions spanning the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa and former Soviet Union countries. Less than 40% of adults in Gabon, Armenia, Palestinian Territories, and Iraq claim there is little freedom in their media, despite legal or constitution mandates put in place to guarantee free speech and press.
Perceived media freedom is highest in developed regions in Asia, Europe and North America. Ghana is the only sub-Saharan African country where over 90% of adults claim to have media freedom. Still, independent research by organizations like Freedom House suggest small discrepancies between what experts who make external evaluations assume, and what the people being polled think. For example, 80% or more residents of Botswana, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, and Liberia say that their media is free, even though Freedom House classifies the media in these regions as being not free.