Freedom of the Press - Sao Tome and Principe (2006)

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 4
Political Influences: 11
Economic Pressures: 14
Total Score: 29

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 63
Religious Groups: Christian [Roman Catholic, Evangelical Protestant, Seventh-Day Adventist] (80 percent), other (20 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Mestico, angolares (descendants of Angolan slaves), forros (descendants of freed slaves), servicais (contract laborers from Angola, Mozambique, and Cape Verde), tongas (children of servicais born on the islands), Europeans (primarily Portuguese)
Capital: Sao Tome

The constitution of Sao Tome guarantees freedom of the press, and the government has an exemplary history of respecting these rights in practice. Publications that criticize official policies circulate freely without journalists being arrested, jailed, tortured, or harassed in reprisal. However, journalists do practice a degree of self-censorship, and their reports often depend on official news releases, which inhibits the growth of investigative journalism. Poor salaries and lack of advertising revenue, technology, and media training also constitute major handicaps for journalists.

There are six privately owned newspapers and one state-run paper. Although no law forbids independent broadcasting, the government controls a local press agency and the country's only television and radio broadcast stations – Radio Nacional de Sao Tome e Principe, and Televisao Saotomense. These stations provide opposition political parties with unlimited free airtime. Internet access is unrestricted by the government for the 11.7 percent of the population able to afford it, but the high level of poverty in Sao Tome and Principe severely limits the impact of this medium.

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