Freedom of the Press

Jamaica

Jamaica

Freedom of the Press 2007

2007 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

15

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

6

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

Jamaica continued to uphold its free media environment in 2006, while still considering further legal protection for the press. The constitution protects freedom of expression but does not explicitly mention the press. A process has begun to overhaul the constitution and replace it with a comprehensive charter of rights that the Inter American Press Association believes will better protect human rights. The Media Association of Jamaica, representing media owners and managers, lobbied to include separate protection for press freedom in the charter. Following full application of the Access to Information Act in the previous year, in June the information minister, Senator Colin Campbell, announced the launch of a public education campaign to make people aware of how the legislation will work in practice. Some media freedom advocates continue to complain that existing libel and defamation laws are hindering freedom of expression. It is thought that media owners, wary of the possibility of facing financially damaging libel suits, are less inclined to encourage journalists to investigate corruption and other sensitive issues. Nonetheless, there were no physical attacks on the press in Jamaica in 2006.

The country has two national daily newspapers and a daily afternoon tabloid. There are a number of national and regional periodicals serving a variety of sectors and interests. The state broadcasting service was largely privatized in 1997, although the Kool FM radio station is still government owned. At the end of March, the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) was launched as a radio and television service to replace the state-run Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. The PBCJ—funded by state and private sector contributions—will provide public education, information, and entertainment on radio and on television through cable transmission. There are over one million internet users in Jamaica (40 percent of the population), and access is unrestricted by the government.