Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
The press is generally allowed to report openly; freedom of speech and of the press is respected in the constitution. However, strong restrictions on access to information hinder the press, and many journalists and news organizations practice self-censorship to avoid reprisals from the government or big business. The current administration, led by President Francisco Flores Perez and the right-wing National Republican Alliance, is accused of rarely meeting with journalists and then only under strict conditions. Journalists report that media outlets also censor their own news, while media companies complain that government-funded public service announcements are placed in those outlets that are most supportive of government policy. A popular current affairs television program that is often critical of the government, Sin Censura (Uncensored), was removed from the air in March after the network's private shareholders bent to the realities of the program's financial difficulties due to an advertising embargo reportedly led by the government and big business interests. Press freedom advocates expressed their frustration that the network had not disclosed to the public the reasons behind the show's departure. Legislation passed in 2002, including a provision in the criminal code that allows judges to close courts and a national audit law that permits public audits to be classified until either they are approved or a lengthy appeals process has been exhausted, have placed further restrictions on press freedom.