Freedom of the Press - Spain (2007)
|Publication Date||2 May 2007|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Spain (2007), 2 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/478cd54a2.html [accessed 28 December 2014]|
Legal Environment: 4 (of 30)
Political Environment: 13 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 5 (of 30)
Total Score: 22 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Freedom of speech is protected by Spanish law and is generally respected in practice. However, threats to press freedom include antiterrorism legislation and high awards in defamation suits against journalists. In November 2005, the national court began hearing appeals by journalists of the Basque-language daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria who had been charged in December 2004 by lower court judge Juan del Olmo with creating an "illegal association" and in some cases with "membership of a terrorist group" as well. In 2003, the newspaper had been shut down under suspicion of collaborating with the Basque separatist group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA, or Basque Fatherland and Freedom). The journalists, who are all free on bail, face prison terms ranging from 1 to 14 years. Euskaldunon Egunkaria remains closed.
According to observers, ETA still poses a threat to journalists, many of whom employ bodyguards. Journalists who oppose the political views of ETA are often targeted by the group. The publicly owned Vitoria radio station EITB in particular was threatened with reprisals by ETA in February 2006. In October 2006, a Spanish court ruled that Tayssir Allouni, the presenter for Qatar-based satellite television station Al-Jazeera who became famous for interviewing terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, could serve the remainder of his seven-year sentence under house arrest. Allouni had been sentenced in September 2005 along with 23 other people after being implicated in terrorist activities.
Spain has a free and lively press, with more than 100 newspapers that cover a wide range of perspectives and are active in investigating high-level corruption. However, daily newspaper ownership is concentrated within large media groups like Prisa and Zeta. During the year, the Spanish public broadcaster RTVE threatened to cut up to 3,000 jobs, around 40 percent of its workforce, sparking protests and strikes. The internet is unrestricted by the government. The growth in internet usage was among the highest in Western Europe in 2006, with 44 percent of the population accessing the internet that year – nearly triple the number of users from the previous year.