Freedom of the Press 2008 - Bahamas
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Bahamas, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f5edc.html [accessed 14 July 2014]|
Legal Environment: 3 (of 30)
Political Environment: 10 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 7 (of 30)
Total Score: 20 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and although there is no freedom of information legislation, the government does generally support the public's right to access to information. The media is generally free to criticize the government and its policies, although in the run-up to May's general election, the incumbent Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) repeated earlier criticism of newspaper coverage. A particular source of tension was The Tribune newspaper's publication of photographs showing the Immigration Minister, Shane Gibson, and the former model, Anna Nicole Smith, embracing on a bed. Gibson eventually resigned from his position as minister. Prime Minister Perry Christie denounced The Tribune, accusing it of serving the interests of the opposition. The scandal probably contributed to the PLP's defeat in the election. Meanwhile, state-owned media were accused of discrepancies in campaign coverage that favored the government, while partisanship increased throughout the media as the election approached.
In July, the announcement that three of the country's four daily newspapers – The Tribune, The Nassau Guardian and The Freeport News – had agreed to a partnership for sales, purchases and printing production raised concerns about a looming media monopoly. Although the merger partners assured the public that the editorial departments will function independently, critics claimed that the move could only be to the detriment of media independence and diversity in the Bahamas. The state-owned Broadcasting Corporation of the Bahamas operates a television station and the ZNS Radio Bahamas network. There are also numerous privately owned radio stations. The internet was unrestricted and was accessed by 30 percent of the population.