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)
Lithuania’s media environment continued to remain free in 2006 despite an incident of government seizure of printed materials. The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and those guarantees are respected by the government in practice. According to the criminal code, libel or defamation is punishable by a fine or imprisonment, though few journalists have been convicted of such crimes in recent years. In September 2006, agents from the State Security Department briefly detained the editor of the Laisvas Laikrastis newspaper, seized all 15,000 copies of the latest issue, and confiscated computers from the newsroom and the editor’s home. Government agents maintained that the issue in question, which included a story about alleged political corruption, contained information classified as a state secret. President Valdas Adamkus, the Lithuanian Journalists Union, and press advocacy groups condemned the action. Even while this incident occurred, Lithuanian journalists were generally free to practice and were not subject to physical attacks or harassment attempts throughout the year.
The media freely criticize the government and express a wide variety of views. There are a large number of privately owned newspapers, and several independent and public television and radio stations broadcast throughout the country. However, media ownership has undergone increased concentration over the last few years, leading to concerns about the possible effects on media independence and quality. Investors in the country’s media market include both domestic firms and foreign companies, mainly from Scandinavia. Lithuania saw a decline in newspaper advertising revenues of about 7 percent in 2005, according to the World Association of Newspapers. The government does not limit access to the internet; nonetheless, only 36 percent of Lithuanians made use of the internet in 2006—the lowest percentage among the three Baltic countries.