Spain | 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)


Spain has a free and lively press, with more than 100 newspapers covering a wide range of perspectives and actively investigating high-level corruption. Freedom of speech is protected by Spanish law and is generally respected in practice. Threats to press freedom include antiterrorism legislation and high awards in defamation suits against journalists. In January 2007, a judge ordered the garnishing of the pension of Patxi Ibarrondo, editor of La Realidad, who was originally charged with libel in 2001 for comments about a regional party secretary of the Popular Party. The libel suit forced the closure of La Realidad that same year. In November, two cartoonists were fined 3,000 euros each for “insulting the crown” for their depiction in July of Crown Prince Felipe having sex with his wife, Princess Letizia. The offending issue of the weekly El Jueves was ordered to be confiscated by a judge because it violated the criminal code, which punishes “insults” to the royal family.

In January, the political environment worsened following a breakdown of peace talks between the Spanish government and the Basque separatist group Basque Fatherland and Freedom (ETA) after an airport bombing. Journalists who oppose the political views of ETA continue to be targeted by the group, forcing many to employ bodyguards. Daily newspaper ownership is concentrated within large media groups like Prisa and Zeta. Internet access is not restricted; however, authorities monitor websites with material espousing hate speech or advocating anti-Semitism and shut one down in April, according to the U.S. State Department’s 2007 report on human rights.