The UK has scored 38th in the 2016 world press freedom index, lower than Ghana, Tonga and Belize. A free press is a part of the foundation of any meaningful democracy. Without a press free to inform the public, the public’s ability to engage in political decisions is severely limited.
- Pluralism (the degree to which opinions are represented in the media)
- Media Independence (the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious influence)
- Legislative Framework
- Abuses (acts of abuse and violence against journalists and media)
Ireland ranked 9th, Germany 16th and Belgium 13th. And the European section of the organisation’s website reads:
The continent that respects media freedom most seemed to be on a downhill course.
Media ownership by conglomerates with a wide range of business interests has long posed a threat to journalistic independence, but the threat is growing and is endangering the European model.
Perhaps the UK ranks below its European counterparts because of a lack of plurality. A YouGov study found that British people perceive their press to be ‘the most right-wing in Europe’.
Correspondingly, Rupert Murdoch’s News UK controls one-third of our national newspapers – 70% of which are owned by just three companies.
Terrorist attacks have led to the adoption of draconian security legislation. The government reacted to the London public transport bombings in 2005 with a Terrorism Act the following year that restricts freedom of expression. The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) adopted in 2000 allows the authorities to obtain the phone records of journalists in cases of threats to national security. Worse still, despite a law protecting the confidentiality of sources, the police have since 1984 been able to ask the courts to order media outlets to hand over unpublished journalistic source material “in the interests of justice.”
The organisation cites anti-terror legislation and police powers as contributing reasons for ranking the UK all the way down at 38th, a drop from the 33rd position it held in 2014.
Considering we are the fifth largest economy, we are in a position to build a society with a free press. Yet we rank lower than developing countries on an independent report. This is a strong indictment of a government passing draconian legislation while failing to curtail media monopolies. And a free press is vital to democracy: without a properly informed public the word is meaningless.
Check out the Media Reform Coalition.
Write to your MP, asking their view on media monopolies.
Featured image via Red Rose Exile.
We know everyone is suffering under the Tories - but the Canary is a vital weapon in our fight back, and we need your support
The Canary Workers’ Co-op knows life is hard. The Tories are waging a class war against us we’re all having to fight. But like trade unions and community organising, truly independent working-class media is a vital weapon in our armoury.
The Canary doesn’t have the budget of the corporate media. In fact, our income is over 1,000 times less than the Guardian’s. What we do have is a radical agenda that disrupts power and amplifies marginalised communities. But we can only do this with our readers’ support.
So please, help us continue to spread messages of resistance and hope. Even the smallest donation would mean the world to us.