United Kingdom | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

United Kingdom

United Kingdom

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)


The 1998 Human Rights Act provides a statutory right to freedom of expression (though limited by the European Convention, which includes exceptions for public safety, health, morals, and the reputation of others). The 2000 Freedom of Information Act grants access to significant areas of information previously closed to the press. The act excludes information related to national defense, international issues, commercial interests, and law enforcement. The media enjoy these rights in practice. However, journalists and media outlets are subject to strict libel and obscenity laws. Print media outlets are privately owned and independent, though many of the national daily newspapers are aligned with political parties. The BBC operates half the broadcast media, which are funded by the state but are editorially independent. Authorities may monitor Internet messages and e-mail without judicial permission in the name of national security and "well being." The murder of prominent Northern Ireland journalist Martin O'Hagan remained unsolved more than a year after his death.