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Media

Diversity of information and ideas, especially on issues of public interest, enables individuals to act as informed citizens, play their role in political life, and hold governments to account. Trusted, inclusive, pluralistic, and independent media play a critical role in supporting effective and inclusive governance and the development of healthy information ecosystems.

Ongoing digital evolution has economic, cultural, political, and social consequences. New, giant actors have emerged which dominate the advertising market and have huge influence over the distribution of media content and the financial models of outlets.

Media and journalists also face many challenges. Financial viability is increasingly precarious globally, leaving public-interest media vulnerable to pressure from governments as well as economic forces.

Table 11: Media scores for each region, 2008–18

  2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Africa 0.47 0.47 0.46 0.45 0.45 0.46 0.46 0.45 0.44 0.45 0.45
Americas 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.67 0.65 0.65 0.64 0.64 0.63 0.62
APAa 0.49 0.50 0.49 0.49 0.49 0.47 0.46 0.46 0.46 0.46 0.46
ECAb 0.70 0.70 0.70 0.70 0.69 0.68 0.67 0.67 0.66 0.65 0.64
MENAc 0.21 0.22 0.21 0.26 0.28 0.28 0.27 0.27 0.26 0.25 0.26
Average Country Score 0.54 0.54 0.54 0.54 0.54 0.53 0.53 0.52 0.52 0.51 0.51
Notes: a = Asia and the Pacific; b = Europe and Central Asia; c. = Middle East and North Africa.

 

Figure 5: 

Note: Figure 5 shows average scores per region for Media theme

 

Table 12: Top and bottom five scores for Media, 2018

Position Country Score
1 Estonia 0.93
2 Denmark 0.93
3 Sweden 0.93
4 Norway 0.91
5 Switzerland 0.91
Average 0.51
157 United Arab Emirates 0.02
158 Cuba 0.01
159 Eritrea 0.01
160 Turkmenistan 0.01
161 North Korea 0.00

 

Legal threats to freedom of expression continue – from broad and ambiguous national security laws to laws that unduly limit online expression, as well as new frameworks that delegate blocking and removal to online platforms, which often do so without transparency or accountability.

Estimates show that algorithms moderating content on social media have an accuracy rate of just 80%. This leaves a huge volume of people and communities affected by inaccurate and unjust content removals. In particular, voices of difference and dissent are being silenced online; human rights defenders, LGBTQ+ communities, and political opposition groups across the world have had their content removed and accounts deleted. [1]

Poorly drafted laws to restrict speech were a major feature of the legislative landscape in 2018. Seventeen governments proposed or approved laws to restrict both offline and online media outlets in the name of fighting ‘fake news’ and online manipulation, [2] while 28 people were imprisoned for ‘false news’ charges – a rise of 19 in the space of two years.[3] South East Asia passed a raft of new copycat laws in 2018.

 

[1] ARTICLE 19, #MissingVoices, n.d., available at https://www.article19.org/campaigns/missingvoices/

[2] Freedom House, Freedom on the Net 2018, available at https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/freedom-net-2018

[3] Committee to Protect Journalists, Hundreds of Journalists Jailed Globally Becomes the New Normal, 13 December 2018, available at https://cpj.org/reports/2018/12/journalists-jailed-imprisoned-turkey-china-egypt-saudi-arabia.php