Nigeria Rated 52nd on 2011 Freedom of the Press Index
By Aliyu U. Tilde, New York, 3 May, 2011
The year 2010 will be remembered in press circles as the one in which press fredeem dropped to its lowest level for a decade, data from Freedom House's Annual Press Freedom Index reveals.
In a report titled Freedom of the Press 2011, its managing editor, Karin Deutsch Karlekar, observed that in 2010 repressive governnments intensified their efforts to control traditional media and developed new techniques to limit the independence of rapidly expanding Internet-based media.
The report identified five major key trends in 2010 regarding press freedom, i.e. misuse of licensing and regulatory frameworks in a number of semi democratic and authoritaraian settings; control over new means of news dissemination, particularly Internet-based social media; the growing role of non-state forces in the suppression of press freedom; worsening violence against the press and impunity for such crimes, which force journalists into self-censorship or exile; and threats to media freedom remain a concern in established democracies.
The report also reveals that "only 15 prevent of the global population - one in six people - live in countries where coverage of political news is robust, the safety of journalists is guaranteed, state intrusion in media affairs is minimal, and the press is not subject to onerous legal or economic pressures."
The survey also has shown that out of the 196 countries and territories assessed during 2010, a total of 68 (35%) were rated Free, 65 (33 percent) were rated Partly Free, and 63 (32 percent) were rated Not Free.
The report categorized Nigerian press as Partly Free and rated the country 52nd, a position it shares with Equador at the tail of 105 other countries. In Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria is rated the 15th after five countries which fall into the Free Press category (Mali, Ghana, Cape Verde, Mauritius and Sao Rome) and nine others whose press are rated as Partly Free (Benin, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Comoros, Lethoso, and Tanzania. Mali, at 24th position, was rated the best in Africa.
There was, however, a small numerical improvement in Nigeria, noted the report, which it attributed to expansions in media diversity and coverage, as well as the nullification of the Nigeria Press Council Act by the Federal High Court that have an effect on relaxing constraints on the media industry.
The Freedom of the Press index assess the degree of print, broadcast and internet freedom in every country in the world, analyzing the events and developments of each calendar year, said the report. Ratings, it said, are determined through an examination of three broad categories: legal environment in which mead operate; political influences on reporting and access to information; and economic pressures on content and the dissemination of news.
Ratings, the report further stated, reflect not just government actions and policies, but the behavior of the press itself in eating boundaries, evenin more restrictive environments, as well as the impact of nonstate actors. It also indicated that the basis for a press freedom status designation of Free, Partly Free, or Not Free which each country receives is derived from its numerical rating from 0 (the most free) to 100 (the least free).
The Fredom of the Press index is published annually since 1980 by Freedom House, Washington.