Kiribati | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Kiribati

Kiribati

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Free

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

26

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

8

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

13

The tiny archepelagic nation of Kiribati has a free and open media system. Freedom of expression is safeguarded under Article 12 of the constitution; however, there are some restrictions. Newspapers are required to register with the government under the Newspaper Registration Act. In addition, the Newspaper Registration (Amendment) Act of 2004 gives the government the power to stop publication of newspapers that face complaints. There is no official censorship, although journalists have self-censored under political pressure from the government. In 2007, Kiribati journalists joined the newly formed Micronesian Media Association to protect free and independent journalism and public access to information. During the run-up to the second round of parliamentary elections in August 2007, a member of the opposition party was denied the opportunity to broadcast a speech on the government-owned Broadcasting and Publications Authority (BPA) radio station. A former BPA radio journalist, Taberannang Korauaba, had been fired in 2005 after refusing to reveal his source for a corruption report. He lost his lawsuit over the dismissal in 2006. The state-run newspaper, Te Uekera, and the nation’s only privately owned newspaper, Kiribati New Star, both operate on a weekly basis and offer diverse viewpoints. Newsletters from Catholic and Protestant churches provide additional sources of information. There is one state AM and FM radio station and one private broadcaster in the capital, Tarawa. In 2006, the government hired Powercom, a Tasmanian company, to set up the first radio contact among the country’s scattered coral atolls. The internet is unrestricted; however, with a single provider, access is among the most expensive in the world, and only 2 percent of the country’s population was able to make use of the internet on a regular basis during the year. Toward the end of 2007, Fiji-based Digicel sought a license to begin mobile telephone and internet operations in Kiribati, which would put an end to the government’s monopoly on telecommunications.