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)
Although the basic charter provides for freedom of press, government laws and actions tightly restrict this freedom in practice, a trend that continued in 2004. The law prohibits criticism of longtime ruler Sultan Qaboos. However, an August promulgation setting up the Law on Private Radio and Television Companies, which established regulations for creating Oman's first private radio and television companies, was a positive development.
While the government permits private print publications, many of them accept government subsidies, and the Ministry of Information may censor any material regarded as politically, culturally, and sexually offensive. As a result, journalists frequently practice self-censorship. In November, authorities barred the media from giving publication space or airtime to two intellectuals who, in an Iranian television broadcast, expressed serious doubts over the sultanate's commitment to democratic reform. However, the government allowed state television to broadcast sessions in which members of the Consultative Council questioned government ministers.
The government owns and controls all broadcast media that have the widest reach with the Omani population. The number of households with access to satellite television has increased, permitting a greater diversity of information sources. Omanis can gain access to the Internet through the national telecommunications company, but the company blocked sites considered politically sensitive or pornographic and placed warnings of probable censorship and police questioning on others.