East Timor | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

East Timor

East Timor

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Since East Timor's referendum for independence from Indonesia in 1999 and the violent and destructive withdrawal by the Indonesian military that ensued, a fledging press has emerged that contrasts to that under Indonesia's occupation, when independent reporting was not tolerated. Nascent media are supported by a new constitution that provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government generally respects these rights. Critics note that the constitution makes freedom of expression dependent on several legal provisions, however, and some media experts foresee court battles in the future to settle conflicts raised by press, libel, and broadcast regulation laws. There are two daily newspapers, two weeklies, and a state radio and television station. The broadcast media were handed over to the government by the interim UN administration upon the country's official independence in May 2002, and some express concern that the ruling party (Fretilin) maintains pervasive influence over the station's content. Radio service is available throughout the country, while lack of infrastructure confines television broadcasts to the capital, Dili. A Catholic church radio station also exists, as well as a handful of community radio stations, which are heavily funded by international donors. Insufficient resources constrain development of further print or broadcast media.