Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 10/2009

Print and Broadcast Media Freedom: Disparities and Openings

Karin Deutsch Karlekar

September 2009

National Endowment for Democracy


Broadcast media have long been subject to greater government control than print media-from outright restrictions on private ownership to licensing and other regulations that maintain state control or influence content. Using historical data from Freedom House's Freedom of the Press index, which has been conducted since 1980, this report assesses regional trends regarding differing levels of print and broadcast media freedom. While an initial set of data covering 1980-88 shows a clear pattern of print media ranked as freer than broadcast media in every country studied, a later data set covering 1994-2001 shows that while print media outlets faced fewer direct government controls, they were targeted more often by governments in terms of legal harassment and physical attacks on journalists and their facilities.