Germany | 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)


The constitution and basic laws guarantee freedom of expression and of the press, although there are exceptions for hate speech, Holocaust denial, and Nazi propaganda, as well as for obscene, violent, or "dangerous" material on the Internet. German privacy laws at times restrict press freedom. Since a 2003 Constitutional Court ruling, police can trace journalists' phone calls in "serious" cases, where "serious" is not clearly defined. The highly publicized case of Princess Caroline of Monaco v. Germany, which involved the publication of photos of the princess in German newspapers, was cause for concern for press freedom organizations. In June, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the photos were a violation of her right to privacy and extended a public figure's right to privacy to include public places, determining that the princess was not a public official whose private life was of legitimate interest to the general population. Germany is one of the only European countries with no freedom of information legislation, perhaps because it has been rejected by some regional governments.

The private media are diverse and independent. Each of the 16 regions is in charge of its own public radio and television broadcasters, and there are many private stations as well. The press is dominated by numerous regional papers, but only a handful of national papers are published. In the past two decades, financial pressures have consolidated the private media sector; today, a few centralized editorial offices control most content, and only a few commercial groups, which are some of the largest in the world, dominate the media market. Internet access is open and largely unrestricted. However, German law bans Internet access to the aforementioned prohibited material, and the government has issued numerous ordinances against Internet providers.