Cyprus | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Cyprus

Cyprus

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

22

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

10

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

7

Freedom of the press is generally respected in law and practice in the Greek sector. The independent press is vibrant and frequently criticizes authorities, and private television and radio stations compete effectively with government-controlled stations. Cypriots have access to Greek and Turkish broadcasts. There are seven major dailies, one weekly newspaper, and six major magazines. However, most daily newspapers belong to or are linked to political parties or other groups, and only the state broadcaster has sufficient funds to produce substantial amounts of its own programming. Ownership is highly concentrated.

In the run-up to the April referendum on the Annan settlement plan for reunification of the island, the government allegedly pressured the media to support its position against the plan. Both public and private Greek Cypriot media showed a marked bias against the Annan plan, including giving more television airtime to opponents of the plan. In addition, the state-owned Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation declined to interview members of the international community who were in favor of the Annan plan in the days leading up to the referendum. The Turkish Cypriot leader, President Rauf Denktash, refused the UN's request for a news blackout during the reunification talks, although this was probably to serve his own ends, not those of free media.

In the north, laws are in place for freedom of the press, but authorities are overtly hostile to the independent press. Several local daily newspapers are available, but the broadcasting service is controlled exclusively by the Turkish Cypriot administration. The editor of the outspoken daily newspaper Afrika, Sener Levent, has faced hundreds of court summonses for his paper's criticism of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials, including many in 2004. Journalists at the daily newspaper Kibris, which was in favor of reunification, were the targets of death threats leading up to the referendum. Following the referendum, three small homemade bombs exploded outside the Kibris office. [The numerical rating for Cyprus is based on conditions on the Greek side of the island.]