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)
Recent gains in the legal and political environments for the media in Guinea-Bissau, following a 2005 law that provided for freedom of speech and of the press, appeared to be holding fast by the end of 2006. But the return to power of President Joao Bernado “Nino” Vieira, the former military ruler in exile, has been accompanied by economic and political crises that have both fractured the governing coalition and led to a number of troubling cases of press intimidation. The law currently provides for freedom of speech and of the press, but incidents in 2006 have hinted at an overall weakening in governmental respect for those rights.
Media practitioners have also occasionally been caught in the crossfire of partisan political wrangling. In November, the Media Foundation of West Africa reported that sympathizers of President Vieira besieged the privately owned radio station Bombolom FM and forced a reporter, Antonio Iaia Seidi, to disclose a source of information used in a report he had filed earlier. The angry group also forcibly broadcast a rejoinder to the story. In June, another Bombolom FM journalist was detained and severely beaten in custody after being accused of broadcasting “false news” for accusing a police officer of violence against a woman in one of his reports.
While the country’s only television station remains state run, three private radio stations—Bombolom FM, Radio Pindjiguiti, and Voice of Quelele—compete with the state-run radio broadcaster, Radio Nacional, and the Portuguese-owned public broadcaster, RTP Africa. Three privately run newspapers operate alongside the state-owned weekly No Pintcha. Owing to considerable financial constraints and government control of the sole functioning printing house, newspapers publish only sporadically. The impact of such financial constraints has been particularly severe for the state-owned media because of a lack of government ability to earmark adequate operational funding, as well as the fact that private advertising funds are directed primarily toward the private media sector. No government interference with or attempts to censor the internet were reported in 2006, and the rate of access to this new medium was estimated to be just over 2 percent of the population.