Antigua and Barbuda | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

43

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

16

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

The constitution provides for freedom of expression. However, the dominant Antigua Labour Party (ALP) and the Bird family continue to hinder equal access to opposition parties through broadcast and print media. Local free-press advocates have called for reform of existing media laws, arguing that current laws prohibit critical public discussion. The government and members of the ruling party own or control most broadcast outlets. Despite previous promises that the state-owned media would be privatized, in 2003 there was no major change in media holdings. Some corporations reportedly do not advertise on the only independent radio station for fear of losing government contracts. With legislative elections scheduled for 2004, the Electoral Commission met with several media houses to discuss regulations managing the conduct of broadcast and print media in the run-up to the polling. Current laws require that the media provide "equitable allocation of time and space, in a non-discriminatory manner to enable political parties and candidates to carry their messages." However, the chief information officer of the state-owned media suggested that parties be allotted proportional time based on their seat distribution in parliament, which was interpreted by some as conflicting with already agreed-to laws that all political parties be afforded equal time on the state-owned media.