Freedom House Ranks Press Freedom in Montenegro

Freedom House has released it’s Freedom of the Press 2011 report.  Montenegro ranked 37 in press freedom, which earns us a “partly free” rating. The ratings and reports included in Freedom of the Press 2011 cover events that took place between 1 January, 2010, and 31 December, 2010.  Montenegro’s 2010 rating was also 37, so freedom of the press neither improved nor worsened during the last year.

Here’s how Montenegro compared with the other states of former Yugoslavia:

  1. Slovenia – 25
  2. Serbia – 33
  3. Montenegro -37
  4. Croatia – 41
  5. Macedonia – 48
  6. Bosnia and Herzegovina – 48
  7. Kosovo – 51

37 is not a terrible score, but ranking behind Slovenia and Serbia does provide motivation for improvement.

Report Criteria

The FreedomHouse report seeks to measure factors in the legal, political, and economic environment which affect press freedom.  Here are the questions by which the FreedomHouse ratings are calculated:

LEGAL ENVIRONMENT (0–30 POINTS)

  • Do the constitution or other basic laws contain provisions designed to protect freedom of the press and of expression, and are they enforced? (0–6 points)
  • Do the penal code, security laws, or any other laws restrict reporting and are journalists or bloggers punished under these laws? (0–6 points)
  • Are there penalties for libeling officials or the state and are they enforced? (0–3 points)
  • Is the judiciary independent and do courts judge cases concerning the media impartially? (0–3 points)
  • Is freedom of information legislation in place, and are journalists able to make use of it? (0–2 points)
  • Can individuals or business entities legally establish and operate private media outlets without undue interference? (0–4 points)
  • Are media regulatory bodies, such as a broadcasting authority or national press or communications council, able to operate freely and independently? (0–2 points)
  • Is there freedom to become a journalist and to practice journalism, and can professional groups freely support journalists’ rights and interests? (0–4 points)

POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT (0–40 POINTS)

  • To what extent are media outlets’ news and information content determined by the government or a particular partisan interest? (0–10 points)
  • Is access to official or unofficial sources generally controlled? (0–2 points)
  • Is there official or unofficial censorship? (0–4 points)
  • Do journalists practice self-censorship? (0–4 points)
  • Do people have access to media coverage and a range of news and information that is robust and reflects a diversity of viewpoints? (0–4 points)
  • Are both local and foreign journalists able to cover the news freely in terms of harassment and physical access? (0–6 points)
  • Are journalists, bloggers, or media outlets subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor? (0–10 points)

ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT (0–30 POINTS)

  • To what extent are media owned or controlled by the government and does this influence their diversity of views? (0–6 points)
  • Is media ownership transparent, thus allowing consumers to judge the impartiality of the news? (0–3 points)
  • Is media ownership highly concentrated, and does it influence diversity of content? (0–3 points)
  • Are there restrictions on the means of news production and distribution? (0–4 points)
  • Are there high costs associated with the establishment and operation of media outlets? (0–4 points)
  • Do the state or other actors try to control the media through allocation of advertising or subsidies? (0–3 points)
  • Do journalists, bloggers, or media outlets receive payment from private or public sources whose design is to influence their journalistic content? (0–3 points)
  • Does the overall economic situation negatively impact media outlets’ financial sustainability? (0–4 points)
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