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)
Freedom of speech and of the press are protected by the constitution, but strict libel laws are often used against private media outlets unsupportive of the government. In March, Lola Rasoamaharo, publication director of the private daily La Gazette de la Grande Ile, was prosecuted under these laws on three separate charges of defamation, including an indictment in response to an article he published investigating corruption by the deputy Speaker of the National Assembly. In total, Rasoamaharo received five months in prison and a $1,550 fine. Also, James Ramarosaona, editor of La Gazette, was sentenced to a month in prison for publishing an audit report accusing a state-owned real estate agency of embezzlement. In May, a correspondent for Radio France Internationale was forced to leave the country when his work permit renewal was refused. No reason was given by the government for this action.
Madagascar has six daily newspapers and a number of weeklies and monthlies; however, because of the low literacy rate, print media are aimed primarily at the French-educated urban elite. The majority of the population receives news through the broadcast media, which the government continues to monopolize nationwide. Nonetheless, more than 120 privately owned local radio stations and 12 privately owned local television stations have emerged throughout the country, trying to offer a critical voice on political issues. Three radio stations were allowed to reopen this year after being shut down in 2004. Journalists are, on average, poorly paid and subject to bribery from both the government and the opposition. Occasionally, the government also employs strong-arm tactics-including arbitrary censure-to pressure private media outlets to curb their coverage of political issues, causing many journalists to practice self-censorship. The internet is unrestricted by the government, but in 2005 less than 1 percent of the population had access.