Freedom of the Press - Antigua and Barbuda (2007)
|Publication Date||2 May 2007|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Antigua and Barbuda (2007), 2 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/478cd4ff28.html [accessed 5 October 2015]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 10 (of 30)
Political Environment: 14 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 14 (of 30)
Total Score: 38 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
The constitution of Antigua and Barbuda explicitly protects freedom of speech and of the press, and freedom of information legislation was passed in 2005. A major source of concern for media freedom advocates remained the legal action initiated in 2005 by Gene Pestaina, director of public prosecutions, against Lennox Linton, manager of the popular station Observer Radio, who was accused of defamation for verbally ridiculing the director's office while on the air. In August 2006, a high court judge ruled against Linton's application to have the case thrown out, which subsequently opened the way for the issue to be heard in court.
Relations between the United Progressive Party government and the media continued to be tense. In April, the minister of information, broadcasting, and communications, Edmund Mansoor, publicly criticized what he called "special interests" in the media, stating that the content of commentaries, editorials, and talk shows "smack of ... gutter journalism." In February, the opposition Antigua Labour Party complained to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression about alleged government restrictions on access to state-owned media. In 2005, authorities arrested opposition ZDK radio announcer James "Tanny" Rose for misbehavior in public office, in a case that occurred when he was serving as chief information officer of the state-owned ABS Radio and Television Authority in 1994. In 2006, the prosecutor brought criminal charges against Rose, but he had not been tried by the year's end.
There are 2 daily newspapers, 1 weekly paper, and 10 radio stations, including the state-owned Antigua and Barbuda Network, which also runs the islands' only freely available television service; there is 1 cable television company. There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was accessed by 40 percent of the population in 2006.