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					      Discourses of Censorship:
   A Historical and International
                      Perspective




Prof. Epp Lauk
Fritt Ord & Department of Media and Communication UiO
University of Tartu, Estonia
epp.lauk@media.uio.no
                  Article 19 of the Universal
                Declaration of Human Rights
                                  (United Nations, 10. Dec. 1948)




Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.
   Freedom of speech – freedom of expression –
                is regarded as a basic human right

• This is also an attribute of the nature of political
  systems: democracies create an environment
  where citizens’ rights to free speech are not
  restricted by institutionalised censorship or
  suppressed by any other means.
• They may be limited by law to the extent that is
  necessary for protection of other human rights,
  morals and state security.
• An increasing threat to the freedom of expression
  in today’s democracies comes from the conflict
  between the media’s need to provide a public
  service and their business profitability.
• Market forces increasingly influence the state of
  the freedom of expression, as the mainstream
  media are concentrated into multinational
  corporations whose main aim is the maximization
  of profits.
• In non-democratic political regimes, the freedom
  of expression (speech, press) may be included in
  the Constitution and protected by legislation, but
  is, in reality, restricted by those people or
  organisations in power.
• Control over all types of expression may be less or
  more strict, less or more overt, and may take
  various forms.
• Censorship is one of the most frequent means of
  control and can be found in the most authoritarian
  and totalitarian regimes.
        Most common arguments in
        favour of freedom of speech

• the freedom of speech is necessary for the
  proper working of democracy
• in a democracy the government should be
  accountable to the people
• that the freedom of speech is likely to be
  conducive to the discovery of truth.
    Less common but increasingly
   favoured argument in favour of
               freedom of speech


• the discovery of truth requires a free
  ‘market-place of ideas’ which covers any
  form of expression
          Human Rights argument in
         favour of freedom of speech
• in order for a government to respect the moral
  dignity of its citizens a government must grant
  them fairly broad and deep free-speech rights
• to deny the freedom of speech also denies the
  freedom to hear / listen
• the freedom of speech is intimately tied to
  ‘thinking’
• the denial of the freedom to think ultimately
  affects the freedom of all expressions.
    Arguments in favour of restricting
               the freedom of speech
•   national security
•   territorial integrity
•   public safety
•   public order
•   public health
•   the reputation or rights of others
•   confidential private information
•   the impartiality of legal proceedings
•   the public from crime.
 Freedom of the Press: A Global
  Survey of Media Independence

        CLASSIFICATION SYSTEMS

     numerical rates
Totally Free=0100=Totally Not Free

     rankings
Totally Free=1193=Totally Not Free

http://www.freedomhouse.org
                 Free media countries

• open political competition, where the rule of
  law prevails
• a climate of respect for civil liberties
• basic human rights are protected
• significant independent civic life
• independent media
        Partly Free media countries
• limited respect for political rights and civil
  liberties
• suffer from an environment of corruption
• weak rule of law
• ethnic and religious strife
• often a setting in which a single political party
  enjoys dominance despite the façade of limited
  pluralism
• some legal, political or economic restrictions are
  focused on the media
           Not Free media countries

• basic political rights are absent
• basic civil liberties are widely and
  systematically denied
• independent media do not exist
      Media Freedom in the World




37%                    38%         Free
                                   Partly free
                                   Not free
           25%
 Media Freedom and World Population




                  17%
43%                             Free
                                Partly free
                                Not free
                     40%
    Not FreePartly FreeFree


• Increasing political stability
• Unconditional Access to Information – the
  Internet and Uncensored Foreign
  Broadcasts
• Increasing Editorial Independence of the
  Media
• Free Movement of Journalists – national
  and international
     FreePartly FreeNot Free

• Political Turmoil
• Election related violence
• Murders of Journalists
• State directed control/censorship of the media
• State directed intimidation of the media – use of
  lawsuits against private media / revoking
  publishing licences / suspending or banning
  publications
• Opposition groups barred from using the media
• Anti-terror legislation, specifically that limiting
  public speech
                      Overall Ratings:


• No country has ever achieved a 0 score
• 8 is the best

• No country has achieved a 100 score
• 98 is the worst.
                     Worst case scenario
A State where:
• independent media are either nonexistent or barely
  able to operate
• the role of the press is to act as a mouthpiece for
  the ruling regime
• citizens’ access to unbiased information is
  severely limited or absent;
• legal pressure is used against independent media
  outlets
                  Worst case scenario
• media outlets have their power supplies
  sabotaged by the State
• all other forms of harassment to severely
  curtail the ability of independent media
  outlets to report freely
• state employed journalists are arrested,
  tried, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms
                     Worst case scenario
• journalists are murdered on the orders of the State
• the democratically elected party is not allowed to
  form a government by the incumbents
• the media’s regulatory body or Press Council
  serves its own ends
• the profitability of multi-national corporations
  takes precedence over the dissemination of factual
  information
            6 Continental Categories
1. Americas = North, Central and South America +
   West Indies
2. AsiaPacific = Asia, Australasia, Far East and
   Pacific Ocean States
3. C&EE&FSU = Central & Eastern European and
   Former Soviet Union
4. MidEast&Nafrica = Middle East and North
   Africa
5. Africa Sub Sahara = Sub-Saharan Africa
6. W. Europe = Western Europe
                     HOME ASSIGNMENT
                     Deadline Sept. 7, 2004

Characterise the situation of media freedom in one country of
each continental area. Make a 10-15 min presentation.

What is the nature of the political order in this country? What are
the political conditions for the media? Are the media independent
from the government? Are they controlled by the government and
in which way? Any institutionalised censorship?
Legal conditions: how much is the media freedom regulated/restricted?
Economic conditions: Who owns the media? Level of ownership
concentration? Share of the national and foreign ownership?

http://www.freedomhouse.org/research/pressurvey.htm

				
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posted:11/3/2012
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