Freedom of the Press

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda

Freedom of the Press 2015

2015 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

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

38

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

16

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

13

Legal Environment

The constitution provides for freedoms of speech and of the press, but the government enforces those rights somewhat selectively. Defamation is a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in jail, and cases are occasionally brought against journalists. In 2013, a court ruled in favor of Asot Michael, a member of Parliament, in his defamation case against Caribarena Printing and Publishing, which operates the online news portal Caribarena.com. Michael brought the suit over articles that implicated him in a corruption scandal. At the end of 2014 the court had yet to make a final determination of the damages to be paid by the company and its owner, Ofer Shaked. However, Caribarena had resumed operations by June 2014, after a lengthy hiatus.

The 2004 Freedom of Information Act grants citizens the right to access official government documents and established a commissioner to oversee compliance. Antiguans have complained of difficulties in obtaining information in practice, though the U.S. State Department has noted that such difficulties might be linked to a lack of government resources rather than intentional obstruction.

 

Political Environment

The media sector as a whole offers diverse views, but a number of private outlets are aligned with political parties and display a partisan bias.

The state-owned Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service has been accused of favoring the party in power. A new government led by the Antigua Labor Party (ALP), which unseated the United Progressive Party (UPP) in June 2014 general elections, moved to restructure the broadcaster. In November, Information Minister Melford Nicholas announced the appointment of a new general manager and other senior staff, and said the broadcasting service would merge with two other state-run media services, the New Media Unit and the Government Information Service, to form one entity under the broadcaster’s umbrella. The change took effect in December.

Physical attacks and harassment directed at journalists occur occasionally. In 2013, a journalist for Caribarena was shot at several times—an unusual event for the country. No similar incidents were reported in 2014.

 

Economic Environment

The islands have one daily newspaper, one biweekly paper, and a number of radio and television stations. These include the Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Service, which runs ABS TV, the only free-to-air television service, and ABS Radio; Crusader Radio, operated by the UPP; ZDK Liberty Radio, whose coverage favors the ALP; and the independent Observer Radio. Most private outlets are owned by firms affiliated with either the UPP or ALP. There is one cable television company, and the country also receives broadcasts from a pan-Caribbean radio network, the Caribbean SuperStation (CSS), based in Trinidad. There are no government restrictions on internet access, and about 64 percent of the population used the medium in 2014.