Denmark | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status


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


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


Freedom of speech and of expression are protected in Section 77 of the constitution, and the government generally respects these rights in practice. However, certain legal restrictions exist for libel, blasphemy, and racism. In July, a group of Danish Muslim organizations was forced to pay Pia Kjaersgaard of the Danish People’s Party US$7,400 after losing a libel case that they brought against her. Kjaersgaard was accused of libeling the group by describing their 2006 trip to the Middle East to raise awareness about the controversial Muhammad cartoons “treasonous.” Separately, in an unprecedented legal move, Iceland’s Kaupthing Bank attempted to sue the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet in a British court for libel, marking the first time a Danish paper has been sued abroad. In 2006, the paper ran a series of articles accusing bank employees of being “tax fiddlers” for a scheme that involved attempting to avoid paying taxes in Denmark by transferring funds between countries. The newspaper translated the articles into English and posted them on the internet, making them vulnerable to legal action in the United Kingdom. The case was still pending at year’s end.

In March 2007, reporters at the public Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) forced program cancellations when they walked out in protest over planned workforce cuts. Over 300 employees were set to lose their jobs to save money for the broadcaster, whose expenses for a new headquarters building were running 250 percent higher than originally planned. At a second protest in June, employees expressed concern that the cuts would also cause the quality of programming to suffer. Separately, in the independently governed province of Greenland, a journalist was forced out of her position at the local public broadcaster, KRN, after she reported critically on a state-owned tannery. The broadcaster was concerned that her reporting would “put Greenland in a potentially bad light.”

The private print media are vibrant, although many papers have political affiliations. Government subsidies are available to the press, as are low-interest loans for struggling newspapers. DR TV is the public network operating both DR1 and DR2, while TV2 is a privately run but government-owned television network. State-run television and radio broadcasting is financed by an annual license fee. However, in 2007 it was reported that over 10 percent of the Danish population does not pay the obligatory annual television license fee, an omission that is estimated to cost DR alone almost US$138 million per year. Satellite and cable television are also available. The government does not restrict use of the internet, which was accessed by almost 70 percent of the population in 2007.