License to Censor: The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom

Nov. 15, 2011, 7:56 p.m.

Freedom House released a report on press freedom which describes techniques governments have employed to limit free speech by the media. The report provides a general overview of these regulations around the world and provides detailed case studies from Ecuador, Georgia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

This special report  describes the primary types of media regulation that are used to restrict press freedom, including: statutory controls on licensing and registration;the creation of nominally independent regulatory bodies with built-in avenues for political influence; legal imposition of vague or burdensome content requirements.

Official actions sometimes represent the normal application of highly restrictive laws, while in other cases executive or judicial authorities act arbitrarily, outside the bounds of the law, or in an overtly politicized manner. Government efforts to promote statutory regulation can be particularly effective when self-regulatory mechanisms like media councils or ombudsmen are nonexistent or perceived as weak or underutilized.

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