Qatar | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Qatar

Qatar

Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

61

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

24

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

23

Qatar took a small step forward in improving the legal environment for press freedom with the approval of a new constitution in 2003, but political and economic control remains in the hands of elites with close relationships with the royal family. The new constitution, approved in a referendum in April, offers guarantees for press freedom, and the state generally refrains from direct censorship. However, leading figures with ties to the royal family continue to influence content in print and broadcast media. Although the five leading daily newspapers are privately held, owners and board members of these newspapers include royal family members and other notables. As a consequence, direct criticism of the government is rare. A telephone call-in show sponsored by a government-owned radio station provided an opportunity for citizens to vent concerns about problems in public services. In March, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Ben Khalifah Al Thani, granted a pardon to a Jordanian journalist who had been convicted and sentenced to death for passing military and other information from Qatar to Jordan while working for the state-owned Qatar Television. Qatar is the base of the most popular satellite television channel in the region, Al Jazeera, which generally shies away from covering issues directly related to politics in Qatar.