Belgium | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution and generally respected by the government. Protection of journalists' sources has been a contentious issue in the country for several years. In late March, the legal committee of the Belgian parliament adopted a draft Law on Protection of Sources, but the law was not yet adopted at year's end. In March, Brussels police raided the home and office of Hans-Martin Tillack, a correspondent of the German weekly Stern, and detained him for 10 hours. The raid was allegedly authorized on behalf of the European Antifraud Office (OLAF), which accused Tillack of paying European Union (EU) officials for information in one of his 2002 investigative reports about EU corruption. A Luxembourg court subsequently denied Tillack's petition to prevent OLAF from inspecting material seized from him. The Belgian press is largely private and independent. A dual oversight board maintains balanced reporting on state-controlled television and radio broadcasts. Belgium's Flemish public broadcaster VRT and its journalists staunchly denied allegations that VRT coverage was biased in favor of an extreme far-right party in the June regional elections. Newspapers have gone through increasing concentration in ownership since the 1960s as corporations have been steadily buying up papers. As a result, today a handful of corporations run most of the country's newspapers. The government does not limit access to the Internet.