Antigua and Barbuda | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

40

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

14

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

The constitution of the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda explicitly protects freedom of speech and of the press, and these rights have generally been respected. Conditions for the media improved somewhat following elections held in March, in which the long-ruling Antigua Labor Party (ALP) was defeated. Critics had consistently claimed that under the ALP and the Bird political dynasty, the opposition's access to the broadcast media had been restricted. In addition, several companies reportedly withheld advertising from one private radio station for fear of losing government contracts. The new government, headed by Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer, promised to depoliticize the media environment and introduce freedom of information legislation, but these pledges had not been implemented by year's end.

Currently, Antigua's print media include the Daily Observer, the Antigua Sun, and the Worker's Voice, which is published twice weekly by the ALP. There are two television stations, one of which is state owned, and six radio stations. As many outlets continue to be owned or controlled by political parties or members of the powerful Bird family, the potential for tension between the new government and media exists. In June, the prime minister accused ZDK Radio, which is run by the brother of former prime minister Lester Bird, of inciting unrest, and in October two of the family's broadcast outlets were shut down briefly after officials accused them of not paying their electricity bills, a move that the ALP alleged was politically motivated.