Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Mali's media environment remains one of the most open in Africa. The constitution protects freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects this in practice. Laws that regulate the press and provide for harsh criminal penalties, including imprisonment for criminal libel, have never been used by the state. A case involving three reporters who were arrested and temporarily jailed in 2003 for inciting violence caused a major uproar by national media. The three reporters were charged with defaming an attorney. They were freed while awaiting their trial, which has yet to take place. The Superior Council of Communication functions as a media regulatory body that also protects and controls journalists. A special committee mandated by the constitution oversees equal access to government-controlled media by all political parties during elections.
There are some 40 privately owned newspapers and more than 125 radio stations, including community stations transmitting in regional languages. However, the number of private media outlets has declined recently owing to financial constraints. The government controls the only television station and a number of radio stations under the public network, Office de Radiodiffusion Television du Mali. The radio stations present diverse views, including those critical of government. Access to foreign radio and television transmissions and to the Internet is unrestricted. Newspapers and journals publish in French and Arabic, and there are numerous local newspapers, most of them based in Bamako, the capital. All newspapers are required to register with the Ministry of Communications, but registration is routine.