Denmark | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedom of speech and of expression are protected in Section 77 of the constitution, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Nevertheless, certain legal restrictions for libel, blasphemy, and racism were at the center of a number of incidents in 2006. Press freedom was put to the test when international furor continued over 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that were published in the Copenhagen daily Jyllands-Posten in September 2005. Several Muslim countries boycotted Danish goods, and Danish embassies came under attack. The cartoonists received death threats, bomb threats were made against the newspaper’s headquarters, and hackers attempted to shut down the daily’s online site. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen refused to intervene in the matter, stating that it was an issue of free speech. In February, Jyllands-Posten apologized publicly for any offense caused to Muslims. However, anger flared again in October when two Danish television channels aired a video of political activists drawing cartoons of the prophet.

In 2006, two journalists were indicted for the first time in the country’s history on account of leaking state secrets. In 2004, Michael Bjerre and Jesper Larsen of Berlingske Tidende published a series of articles based on leaked reports from the Danish Defense Intelligence Service questioning the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The two journalists, along with editor in chief Niels Lunde, were brought to trial in November 2006, and all three were acquitted in December. According to the U.S. State Department, radio announcer Kaj Wilhelmsen was given a suspended two-week prison sentence for violating the country’s Antiracism Law. Similarly, in November Radio Hoger’s license was suspended for refusing to supply the Radio and Television Board with a copy of an August broadcast that allegedly contained racist programming. Both Wilhelmsen and Radio Hoger continued to broadcast via the internet, for which a license is not needed.

The private print press is vibrant, though many papers have political affiliations. Government subsidies are available to the press, as are low-interest loans for struggling newspapers. State-run television and radio broadcasting is financed by an annual license fee. TV2 is a privately run television network, and satellite and cable television is also available. The government does not restrict use of the internet, which was accessed by 70 percent of the population in 2006.