Estonia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Estonia maintains one of the most open press environments of all the former Soviet republics. Article 45 of the constitution bans censorship and guarantees freedom of expression. Local journalists enjoy these rights in practice. A variety of independent dailies publish in the Estonian and Russian languages, although existing legislation compels the use of Estonian on all signs, advertisements, and public notices. Defamation remains a criminal offense; however, there were no reported cases during the year. A relatively large number of media organizations compete for limited market share and advertising revenue. As a result, many media outlets are in financial trouble. The government provides subsidies to the state television broadcaster and likewise maintains formal ownership of the central printing house. Publication and distribution are generally free from political influence.