Freedom of the Press 2008 - Jamaica
|Publication Date||29 April 2008|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Jamaica, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f60fc.html [accessed 10 July 2014]|
Legal Environment: 3 (of 30)
Political Environment: 6 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 6 (of 30)
Total Score: 15 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)
Jamaica continued to uphold its free media environment in 2007, the constitution protects freedom of expression, and independent media are active. However, some media rights activists continue to complain that existing libel and defamation laws are hindering freedom of expression, and in particular that media owners discourage investigative reporting of certain subjects because of their fear of libel suits. On World Press Freedom Day on May 3, Desmond Richards, president of the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), called for reform of the current laws. The new Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who took office in September following the victory of his Jamaica Labour Party over the incumbent People's National Party, stated the new government's commitment to review and make changes to existing libel laws. "I want to see a press that is strong, that is powerful, and that is able to satisfy the public's need for information without any unnecessary methods being applied," declared Golding. In the run-up to the election, journalists were frequently harangued as the two main political parties intensified their campaigning. Both the PAJ, representing media workers, and the Media Association of Jamaica, representing media owners, raised concerns about "inflammatory" statements by the leadership of both parties.
The country has two national daily newspapers and a daily afternoon tabloid. There are a number of national and regional periodicals serving a variety of sectors and interests. The state broadcasting service was largely privatized in 1997, although the Kool FM radio station is still government owned. In March 2006, the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) – funded by state and private sector contributions – was launched as a radio and television service to replace the state-run Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation. 45 percent of the population has access to the internet, and there are no restrictions imposed by the authorities.