Freedom of the Press
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)
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. Official attempts to impose legal restrictions on media coverage have been vociferously opposed by journalists. However, during 2006 there was a troubling deterioration in the media environment. Three journalists were murdered, one was kidnapped, and another was the target of an alleged assassination plot. Although there is no incontrovertible evidence that these attacks were linked directly to the victims’ work, there are indications that some of the attacks were connected to their profession. In April, Johnny Martinez, director of Equilibrio magazine and producer of a television program by the same name, was found stabbed to death near his hometown, San Cristobal. Two men—both former policemen—were later found guilty of the murder. In late August, Domingo Disla “Diaz” Florentino, a radio and television commentator, was shot dead in Boca Chica. On September 25, Facundo Labata “Lavatta” Ramirez, a correspondent for Radio Comercial and several other radio stations, was shot dead in Los Alcarrizos. He had recently been reporting on crime and drug trafficking in the area where he lived, and his daughter told the media that he had received threatening letters. In March, Roberto Sandoval, host of critical opinion programs on Radio Comercial and Telecable Nacional’s Canal 10, was abducted by gunmen and wounded as he escaped from a moving vehicle. In late December, veteran journalist Julio Martinez Pozo denounced an alleged plot against his life orchestrated by a senior government official. Martinez Pozo, who hosts a popular radio program on Z-101, claimed that Jose Venegas, a man rumored to have been involved in the disappearance and presumed murder of journalist Narciso Gonzalez in 1994, had been hired to kill him. Investigations into the case continued through the year’s end.
There were numerous other reports of journalists being threatened and intimidated, and the Inter American Press Association denounced an increase in wiretapping and other forms of spying on journalists and executives at various media outlets. Little progress was made on judicial investigations into attacks on journalists from previous years. Media generally avoid serious reportage on some subjects, such as the army and the Catholic Church, as well as on topics that might adversely affect the economic or political interests of a particular outlet’s owners. In November, popular journalist Adolfo Salomon was fired from news agency Color Vision after complaints were filed by high-level officials in the Catholic Church and the armed forces that Salomon had asked inappropriate questions.
There are five national daily newspapers and numerous local publications. The state-owned Radio Television Dominicana operates radio and television services. Private owners operate over 300 AM and FM radio stations and more than 40 television stations, most of them small, regional broadcasters. Overall, media remain subject to some government influence, particularly through the denial of advertising revenues for controversial publications and the implementation of taxes on imported newsprint. No government restrictions on internet access were reported in 2006, though only 16 percent of the population was able to take advantage of this owing to the high costs.