APRIL 29 2015 20:40h

Croatia ranks 80th among 199 countries with regard to media freedom




Croatia has been rated Partly Free with regard to media freedom and ranked 80th among 199 countries according to the latest report by the US-based non-governmental organisation Freedom House.

The report says that global media freedom deteriorated sharply in 2014 to its lowest point in ten years, mainly due to harsh laws and violence.

"The share of the world's population that enjoys a Free press stood at 14 percent, meaning only one in seven 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," Freedom House says in its report "Freedom of the Press 2015", released on Wednesday.

The list is topped by Norway and Sweden as countries with a Free press. With a score of 40, Croatia moved up in the ranking from 83rd place in 2013 to 80th, sharing the spot with Serbia and India in a group of countries with Partly Free media.

By comparison, Croatia's neighbours Slovenia and Austria were rated Free, ranking 41st and 31st respectively. Italy ranked 64th, Hungary 71st, Montenegro 78th, Albania and Kosovo shared 97th place, Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked 107th and Macedonia 125th. These countries were also rated Partly Free.

"Although Europe retains the highest level of press freedom in the world, its regional average score declined for a second consecutive year in 2014. Over the past decade, incremental erosion of the legal and economic environments, as well as interference with the ability of journalists to cover the news in person, have given Europe the world's second-largest net decline since 2004, after Eurasia," the report says.

Compared with 42 European countries, Croatia ranked 34th. It was followed by Romania, Albania, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, and Turkey.

The United States ranked 31st.

North Korea finished at the bottom of the ranking. Among the ten worst-rated countries were Belarus, Crimea, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Syria, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

This year's edition of Freedom of the Press documents a surge in threats to independent journalism, from governments that use legal means to control information, armed groups that make basic reporting a potentially life-threatening activity, and media owners who manipulate news coverage to serve personal or partisan interests.

"The wide and growing range of threats to media freedom around the globe presents a stark challenge to democratic values. Responding to this challenge requires a collective acknowledgement that all infringements on media freedom - both the brutally violent and the seemingly mundane or rational — limit the marketplace of ideas that lies at the core of a free and democratic society," the report concluded.