Antigua and Barbuda | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

38

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

14

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

14

The constitution of the twin-island state of Antigua and Barbuda explicitly protects freedom of speech and of the press. Although the United Progressive Party (UPP) government, elected in 2004, has carried out its promise to pass freedom of information legislation, the appointment of the information commissioner was delayed. The media environment remains politicized. A major source of concern during 2005 was the ongoing legal action initiated by Director of Public Prosecutions Gene Pestaina against Lennox Linton, Observer Radio's station manager. Linton is accused of making a defamatory statement about Pestaina on his morning radio show. His defense attorney has rejected the charges as an attempt to stifle criticism of the administration that amounts to political censorship.

The government's relations with some employees at the state-owned Antigua Broadcasting Service (ABS) continued to be tense. In January, the new minister of information and broadcasting, Dr. Edmund Mansoor, alleged that members of the news and current affairs department of ABS displayed a lack of interest in promoting the policies of the UPP government. The following month, the head of news and current affairs was transferred and replaced by a known government supporter. Critics interpreted the move as further evidence of the ruling party's continued perception of ABS as a public relations tool. On numerous occasions, government officials alluded to or made direct reference to a need to regulate the media in the context of what they termed "hate" radio-talk shows likely to incite prejudice or violence. Media rights activists expressed concerns that such regulation might be used against media critical of the current administration.

There are 2 daily newspapers, 1 weekly paper, and 10 radio stations, including the state-owned ABS, which also runs the islands' only freely available television service; there is one cable television company. In 2005, the government announced that ABS Television and Radio would be merged into a single entity, the Antigua and Barbuda Network. Envisaged changes would include a minimum of 30 percent local programming and the creation of a government information channel to promote tourism-related services. There are no government restrictions on the internet.