Brazil | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Brazil is South America's largest media market with thousands of radio stations and hundreds of television stations across the country. The press is vigorous and commonly reports on controversial political and social issues. Nevertheless, press freedom was subjected to several constraints during the year. A 1967 law left over from the military dictatorship makes libel a criminal offense punishable by prison terms or fines. Although prison terms are rarely handed down, large fines can financially cripple news organizations. The courts are also used to censor the press in cases brought against journalists and media outlets by politicians and businessmen. Brazil's National Association of Journalists reported censorship to be at its highest levels since the 1964-1985 dictatorship. In addition, there were some instances of harassment and violence directed toward the press. Two journalists were murdered during the year, allegedly for investigating drug trafficking and corruption. However, arrests were made in both cases. Media ownership remains highly concentrated, and many news organizations have close ties to political parties and government officials. In a positive development, the media overall played a much less narrowly partisan and self-interested role during the 2002 presidential campaign than in past elections.