Germany | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



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)


The basic law guarantees freedom of expression and of the press, although there are exceptions for hate speech, Holocaust denial, and Nazi propaganda, as well as obscene, violent, or "dangerous" material on the Internet. German privacy laws are sometimes at odds with press freedom. In March, the Constitutional Court authorized police to trace journalists' phone calls in "serious" cases; as "serious" was not defined, this leaves judges to determine whether press freedom should outweigh the fight against crime. The possibility of a federal freedom of information law has been rejected by some regions, thus preventing its passage. After two newspapers published articles early in the year claiming that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was having marital problems, the chancellor sued and a court issued a ban on writing about his private life. The British Mail on Sunday was also banned from selling its edition containing the story in Germany. The states oversee public radio and television broadcasters, but there are many private stations as well. The press is dominated by numerous regional papers. However, in the past two decades, financial pressures have consolidated the private media sector, and today a handful of centralized editorial offices control most content, and only a few commercial groups dominate the media market.