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Taiwan advances one notch to 47th in global press freedom rankings

2012/05/02 13:42:01

Washington, May 1 (CNA) Taiwan's media environment remained one of the freest in Asia in 2011, second only to Japan's among East Asian countries, according to a report released by Freedom House on Tuesday.

Taiwan was tied with Poland, Slovenia and Trinidad and Tobago for 47th in Freedom House's 2012 Freedom of the Press rankings, moving up one notch from its 2011 ranking.

Among Asia-Pacific countries, Taiwan ranked seventh, behind Palau, Marshall Islands, New Zealand, Australia, Micronesia and Japan in the 2012 report, which assessed the state of media freedom in 197 countries and areas in 2011.

Taiwan received a total score of 25 points, the same as in 2011. The higher the score, the worse press conditions are in a country.

Taiwan scored an 8 for its legal environment (1 point worse than in last year's survey), a 9 for its political environment (no change), and an 8 for its economic environment (1 point better than last year).

Freedom House, a Washington-based think tank, described Taiwan in its report as boasting a vigorous and diverse press that reports aggressively on government policies and alleged official wrongdoing.

But it said that during 2011, "media freedom watchdogs raised concerns about the use of criminal defamation laws against a journalist and blogger as well as a proposed merger that could reduce media diversity."

The report also noted a positive development in Taiwan's media environment in 2011, referring to the passage of legal amendments designed to curtail a practice in which government promotional material is disguised as news.

It also noted, however, that there continue to be incidents of news content produced by China's state-run media outlets appearing in Taiwanese newspapers "under less than transparent conditions."

Freedom House further compared the media environment of three ethnically Chinese societies -- Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.

It rated Taiwan's press status as "free," Hong Kong's as "partly free," and China's as "not free."

China ranked 187th in the global rankings and tied for 38th with Myanmar among 40 Asia-Pacific countries, ahead only of North Korea.

Freedom House said China's media environment remained one of the world's most restrictive in 2011.

"Authorities sharply curbed coverage of the popular uprisings in the Middle East, retained blocks on international social-media platforms like Twitter, and tightened controls on investigative reporting and entertainment programming in advance of a sensitive leadership change scheduled for 2012," the report said.

Hong Kong was ranked 70th for press freedom globally and 17th among Asia-Pacific countries and areas.

The report said that although freedom of expression is protected by law and Hong Kong media remain lively in their criticism of the territory's government, political and economic pressures narrow the space for free expression.

(By Tony Liao and Sofia Wu)
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