Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Press in Kuwait? What?

An interesting article in the Kuwait Times online, headlined: 'Kuwait has freest press in Arab World'. Kuwait congratulates itself with a strange 'victory'.

Well, yes, it topped the list of freedom of the press in the Arab world, according to an annual survey of independent media in 195 countries and territories. The survey said the country was one of the very few to enjoy such freedom not only of the press, but also of broadcast and internet media. According to the annual survey report of the US-based Freedom House, a non-governmental media watchdog, Kuwait was one of only a 'handful of countries to rank highest in print, broadcast, and internet media freedom'.

This is funny journalism... 'Kuwait was one of only a handful'? Indeed, in the context of the Arab World. The Freedom of the Press 2008 survey rates countries as free, partly free, or not free across three categories: the legal environment in which media outlets operate; political influence on reporting and access to information; and economic pressures on content and the dissemination of news.

Countries were scored on a 100-point scale, with 100 representing total government control over mass media, and zero indicating perfect freedom. The survey said Kuwait came first in the Arab work, and put Israel as the top in the Middle East and North Africa regions as a whole. Kuwait scored 54 points, Lebanon 55 points, and Egypt 59 points. It said 15 countries in the two regions, or about 76 percent of the population in the Middle East and North Africa, were considered not free.

Aha... so Kuwait is in the range of Lebanon and Egypt. Well, we all know what 'freedom of the press' in those countries means. Putting bloggers in prison, arresting journalists, closing tv-stations. Congratulation Kuwait! You are just a few percent ahead of those countries! 'Partly free' is how Freedom House qualifies these countries.

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