Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Criticism in the press of government policies and the expression of opinions on social and economic issues has increased in recent years. A press law guarantees the right of journalists to operate independently and to publish information. However, it is still illegal to criticize the ruling family or the Saudi royal family, or to write articles that promote sectarian divisions. A November 2002 press law limited the state's capacity to close down publications arbitrarily, but vaguely worded provisions of the new law prohibiting activities such as the "propagation of immoral behavior" leave the door open for state pressure on the media. The government owns and operates all radio and television stations in the country, and these outlets provide only official views. Print media are privately owned, but they usually exercise self-censorship in articles covering sensitive topics. Satellite television is available, but it does not provide access to the Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera, which is widely available throughout the Middle East and North Africa.