Qatar | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Qatar

Qatar

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Not Free

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

0

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

23

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

22

While the new constitution provides for freedom of the press, the government restricts this right in practice. Qatar formally ended censorship of the media in 1995; however, social and political constraints make self-censorship very common, especially when reporting on government policies, the ruling family, and relations with neighboring countries. In addition, although the five leading daily newspapers are privately held, owners and board members of these newspapers include royal family members and other notables who exert significant influence on content. As a consequence, direct criticism of the government is rare. With the exception of the satellite channel Al-Jazeera, broadcast media are state run. A telephone call-in show sponsored by a government-owned radio station provided an opportunity for citizens to vent concerns about problems in public services. A censorship office within the Qatar Radio and Television Corporation reviews domestic and foreign media for pornography and material deemed inimical to Islam. Qataris have access to the Internet through a telecommunications monopoly that has recently been privatized, but the government censors content and blocks access to certain sites deemed pornographic or politically sensitive.

Al-Jazeera, the most popular satellite television channel in the region, was launched from Qatar in 1997. The station generally shies away from covering local issues but has gained international recognition as a daring and controversial source of news from the Middle East and Central Asia. While the government pays some of Al-Jazeera's operating costs, both the station and the government attest to its editorial independence.