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)
Although freedom of the press is guaranteed by Article 16 of the constitution, media outlets are under strong political influence from both the ruling party and the opposition, especially through abuse of the legal system, the selective distribution of advertising, and denial of access to information. Nevertheless, the government has made significant progress in drafting and adopting a Law on Freedom of Information. At the same time, however, amendments to the criminal code passed in fall 2003 further restricted freedom of the press. These legislative changes failed to alter the criminal characterization of offenses such as slander and libel. In response to criticism from the Association of Print Media, the parliament declined a request for state funding from the state-owned news agency, Macedonia Information Agency. The Macedonian press also faces a new challenge of industry consolidation. In July, the German media group Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung announced that it had bought three major Macedonian dailies: Dnevnik, Utrinski Vesnik, and Vest, and incorporated the three newspapers into the new company Media Print Macedonia. With an average circulation of 120,000--and a much larger audience due to readers' common practice of sharing copies--the new conglomerate dominates the market, as the other major newspapers (Nova Macedonia and Vecer) are considered to have much smaller circulation and investment capabilities. Attacks on journalists and media offices in 2003 declined relative to the previous year; however, several incidents were reported, including a police raid on the Albanian newsroom of public broadcaster MTV in April and an attack on three TV crews by villagers in Aracinovo in June.