Freedom of the Press 2008 - Antigua and Barbuda
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Antigua and Barbuda, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f5eac.html [accessed 6 July 2015]|
Status: Partly Free
Legal Environment: 10 (of 30)
Political Environment: 16 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 13 (of 30)
Total Score: 39 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Although the constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, relations between the United Progressive Party (UPP) government and the privately-owned media remained strained. In June, the detention and expulsion of two prominent Caribbean journalists brought a storm of protest at home and across the region. Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer said that Vernon Khelawan, a Trinidadian, and Lennox Linton, a Dominican, had failed to comply with immigration laws, and specifically lacked the necessary work permits. Protests against the deportations focused on the fact that Antigua and Barbuda is one of the signatories to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy which allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labor, and services across the Caribbean, and specifies that journalists are among the categories of workers allowed free movement within the region. In November, the government announced forthcoming legislation to remedy what it labeled irresponsible media. The governor-general, Dame Louise Lake-Tack, told Parliament that a broadcasting act will set, monitor, and enforce standards of conduct by which the print and electronic media will be expected to be governed. The Antigua and Barbuda Media Congress expressed its concerns that the planned legislation would result in media censorship.
The case against ZDK Radio announcer James "Tanny" Rose finally came to court in June, and was promptly dismissed. Rose was arrested in 2005, and the following year had been charged with "misbehavior in public office" in connection with his job as chief information office for the state-owned radio and television stations under the previous government in 1994.
There are 2 daily newspapers, 1 weekly paper, and 10 radio stations, including the state-owned Antigua and Barbuda Network (ABN), the UPP's Crusader Radio, and the opposition Antigua Labour Party's ZDK Radio. ABN runs the islands' only freely available television service, and there is one cable television company. There are no government restrictions on the internet which was accessed by over 44 percent of the population in 2007.