El Salvador | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

El Salvador

El Salvador

Freedom of the Press 2006

2006 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

43

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

17

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

15

Freedom of the press is protected through the constitution, and Salvadoran journalists are generally able to report freely on the news, including reports critical of the government and opposition parties. At the same time, press freedom is hindered by a lack of public transparency, reflected in the absence of freedom of information legislation. Judges have the right to restrict media access to legal proceedings for cases they deem to be in the public interest or of national security. Despite reforms made in 2004 to the code of criminal procedure, defamation remains a criminal offense, and journalists are frequently prosecuted under this law.

Although El Salvador is generally a safe place to practice journalism, 2005 saw an increase in the number of journalists who suffered physical attacks because of their work. More than 10 journalists were assaulted by protesters or the National Civil Police while covering riots on the streets. In February, Mauricio Funes, the host of a television program, was taken off the air after he spoke live about the dismissal of a number of his fellow staff members at TV Doce. A day later, he was informed that the station's parent company, Television Azteca, had decided to terminate his contract.

Under President Elias Antonio Saca's administration, both print and broadcast media are able to function freely and are largely privately owned, though Saca himself owns at least one radio network. There are five daily newspapers that each have a circulation of approximately 250,000, but most of the country depends on television and radio networks for the news. Limited resources prevent many media outlets from producing to their full capacity, and self-censorship is often exercised to avoid offending media owners and directors. There were no reported government restrictions on the internet in 2005 and access has grown by more than 1,000 percent in the last 5 years to just under 9 percent of the population.