Macedonia | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Macedonia

Macedonia

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

51

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

21

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

16

Freedom of expression is guaranteed in the Macedonian constitution; however, media outlets are not fully independent and remain influenced by various political interests. Libel and slander are punishable by imprisonment and fines. One journalist was sentenced to a four-month suspended prison term for libel in April. An investigative reporter for Start magazine was detained for six days for not appearing in court to face libel charges filed against him by a police chief. The Association of Macedonian Journalists attempted unsuccessfully to lobby the government to decriminalize defamation.

Macedonian Radio and Television is the only public broadcaster and it continues to be the main source of news for most of the country; its coverage favors the government. The opposition communicates its views through numerous private broadcast and print media outlets, creating little opportunity for objective, dispassionate reporting. Journalists practice self-censorship in order to cater to the interests of their employers, mainly out of fear of losing their jobs. They are frequently criticized by civil society organizations for their lack of professionalism.

Media are largely aligned with partisan interests and remain divided along ethnic lines. In 2004, the government stopped providing financial support for the press, a move that was strongly contested by print journalists and has already resulted in the closure of several outlets. Macedonia has been fairly accommodating about providing ethnic minorities with media in their own languages. Those media, however, rely largely on international financing. Foreign media, on the other hand, are no longer required to obtain permits from the Ministry of the Interior. The German group WAZ purchased the country's three major dailies. The conglomerate now owns more than 50 percent of the print market in Macedonia, causing concerns over ownership concentration. Internet access is open and unrestricted; however, less than 5 percent of the general public uses online sources of information.