Botswana | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Botswana

Botswana

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

30

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

13

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

11

Freedom of speech and of the press is provided for in the constitution, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Libel is a civil offense, and in past years publications have been charged with defamation and have had to pay large amounts of money in court-ordered damages or as part of a settlement. The press regulates itself through the Press Council of Botswana, launched in 2002. Journalists are occasionally threatened or attacked in retaliation for their reporting. The primary constraint affecting the media remains state domination of the broadcast media, particularly nationwide radio and television stations, which are the chief source of news for the majority of the population. Government-controlled media outlets generally confine themselves to coverage that is supportive of official policies and do not adequately cover the activities or viewpoints of opposition parties and other critics. The government sometimes censors or otherwise restricts news sources or stories that it finds undesirable, and editorial interference in the state-owned media from the Ministry of Communication, Science, and Technology increased in 2004, according to the Media Institute of Southern Africa. The November 2003 suspension of Radio Botswana's popular call-in segment of the morning show Masa-e-sele remained in effect at year's end; and in July 2004, the ministry announced the cancellation of the same station's daily newspaper review segment. Privately owned radio stations and the sole private television station have a limited reach. A number of independent dailies and weeklies publish from major cities and provide vigorous scrutiny of the government, but their financial viability continues to be undermined by the fact that the main government-owned newspaper, the Daily News, continues to be distributed nationwide at no cost. Internet access is unrestricted.