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)
Freedom of speech and of the press is legally guaranteed and generally respected in practice. While 2003 saw some positive developments for press freedom in Malawi, the independent media faced continued restrictions and harassment at the hands of the government and its supporters. Charges of defamation and of offenses under other restrictive laws have been used to prosecute members of the press, resulting in the practice of self-censorship by some journalists. Initially arrested on allegations of publishing information likely to cause a "breach of public peace," in October 2003 Daily Times reporter Frank Namangale was cleared of all charges by the Director of Public Prosecution, who subsequently ordered the police to cease their arbitrary arrest of journalists. Although a broad spectrum of opinion is presented in some two dozen private newspapers, the state-owned Malawi Broadcasting Corporation controls television and most radio service; their coverage favors the ruling party. Private radio is often restricted. In June, the government ordered that community radio stations stop broadcasting news bulletins, and Capital Radio was threatened in September with a shutdown for violating the provisions of its license by airing "outside broadcasts." Reporters and media outlets faced verbal threats as well as physical attacks at the hands of police, senior politicians, and supporters of the ruling party throughout the year.