Freedom of the Press - Solomon Islands (2006)

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 5
Political Influences: 14
Economic Pressures: 11
Total Score: 30

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 62
Religious Groups: Church of Melanesia (32.8 percent), Roman Catholic (19 percent), South Seas Evangelical (17 percent), Seventh-Day Adventist (11.2 percent), United Church (10.3 percent), Christian Fellowship Church (2.4 percent), other Christian (4.4 percent), other (2.9
Ethnic Groups: Melanesian (94.5 percent), Polynesian (3 percent), Micronesian (1.2 percent), other (1.3 percent)
Capital: Honiara

The law provides for protection of free speech and freedom of the press. The media climate has continued to improve since the establishment of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI). The pattern of ethnic violence of the previous few years has ended and led to a safer environment for journalists and media outlets in 2005. However, the country lacks diversity in the media, and political figures continue to occasionally harass journalists. In April, police ordered Sue Ahearn, an Australian broadcaster acting as an adviser to the SIBC, to leave a room in which Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare of Papua New Guinea and his delegation were waiting during a flight stopover. Health and Medical Services Minister Benjamin Una lambasted the media in the Parliament in February after the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation (SIBC) reported a heated exchange between the minister and hospital staff in the capital of Honiara after he had been drinking.

Just one daily newspaper, the Solomon Star, dominates the media scene, with two weekly papers and two monthly newsletters also published. Low literacy rates mean that broadcasts are heavily relied on for news. The SIBC operates the national public station Radio Hapi Isles, Wantok FM, and the provincial stations Radio Hapi Lagun and Radio Temotu. One private commercial station broadcasts, Paoa FM. There are no television stations, although Australia's state-run ABC Asia Pacific, BBC World, and other satellite channels can be received. In 2005, 1.7 percent of the population was reported to have accessed the internet, which is unrestricted by the government.

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