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)


Freedom of speech is constitutionally guaranteed, but the government often restricts this right. The Public Order Act, among other statutes, has at times been used to harass journalists. In addition, during the year the ruling party responded to critical coverage by charging several editors and reporters under harsh criminal libel laws, which provide for prison terms of up to three years. The private media supported the introduction of freedom of information, broadcasting, and independent broadcasting authority draft laws, which aim, respectively, to facilitate easier access to information held by official organs, to transform the state-owned Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation from a government propaganda organ to a public broadcaster, and to establish an independent regulator to regulate broadcasting. The government currently dominates broadcasting, although an independent radio station, Radio Phoenix, presents nongovernmental views. Coverage at state-owned media outlets is generally supportive of the government, and as a result of prepublication review at government-controlled newspapers, journalists commonly practice self-censorship. Reporters continued to face threats and physical assault at the hands of police and ruling party supporters, and newspaper vendors who sell critical publications were also attacked during the year. In April, a local press association condemned corruption and bribe taking, which it alleged were rife in both the state-owned and private media.