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)
Preelection political tension, which included heightened pressure on and intimidation of the media, was primarily responsible for declines in press freedom in 2007. Freedom of the press is constitutionally guaranteed, and while there is no freedom of information legislation, the media generally operate without restriction. However, one case of physical and legal harassment of journalists occurred during the year. On May 25, police manhandled three journalists trying to cover the arrival of traffic accident victims at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Jimmy Gittens, Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) correspondent, was arrested and charged with trespassing and later released on bail. Gittens’s lawyer reported that a civil suit would be filed against the police. In the run-up to the January 2008 general elections, the media environment became increasingly polarized. Both the ruling Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and the main opposition party, the Democratic Labour Party, made increasing use of the internet in their campaigns. Political blogs also grew in popularity, with two sites in particular, Barbados Free Press and Barbados Underground, drawing large numbers of visitors for their exposés of government misdemeanors and hypocrisy. In late December, one contributor to these two blogs, hotelier Adrian Loveridge, informed the police that he and his wife had been subjected to repeated death threats, including promises to burn down their hotel. The threats appeared to be politically motivated on behalf of the ruling BLP. There are two daily newspapers and two weeklies, all privately owned. A new weekly was launched in January but soon folded. Foreign publications deemed pornographic are restricted by the government. Of the 11 radio frequencies, 3 are run by the state-owned CBC, which also operates the sole television station. In 2006, the Barbados-based Caribbean Media Corporation launched CaribVision, a new 24-hour Caribbean television channel, which is available in over 10 Caribbean countries and in North America. There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was accessed by nearly 60 percent of the population in 2007.