Panelists will discuss how regulation restricts media diversity and freedom of expression and will provide recommendations for reform. The panel will feature Freedom House staff Karin Deutsch Karlekar, the managing editor of Freedom of the Press, an annual index published by Freedom House that tracks trends in media freedom worldwide andCourtney C. Radsch, Senior Program Officer, Freedom of Expression as well as Steven Strasser, Associate Professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. Mr. Strasser is the author of the CIMA report.
They will also explore a new report by CIMA entitled Registering Reporters: How Licensing of Journalists Threatens Independent News Media, which found that licensing continues to thrive as one way to control the press, with about one out of every four governments examined in the report playing a role in approving who can work as a journalist and who cannot.“To the extent government licensing policies interfere with a free press, they also damage freedom of expression. Media laws in particular need rethinking. In many developing countries, the laws on licensing must be brought into line with international conventions on free expression. Most laws still do not include formal restrictions on Internet journalism—and it should stay that way. As most of the world now acknowledges, freedom of expression—including freedom of the press—is crucial to democracy and good governance. Only if news media maintain their independence can they play a watchdog role in society. Any government policy that restricts that independence—including licensing—must be examined closely,” the report concludes.
Freedom House’s new report notes that media regulation is one of the most common ways of restricting media freedom around the world. It examines how and if it is possible to strike the balance between the public’s right to freedom of expression and the state’s obligation to protect their citizens from violence, which continues to be a serious challenge amid the explosive growth of satellite and digital media. It also explores issues of government oversight, self-regulatory bodies, and licensing that continue to plague governments and free speech advocates whose interests often seem diametrically opposed. Through in-depth country studies and an examination of recent cases in a range of media environments where media regulation poses a threat to media diversity and freedom, it offers several cautionary examples as well as recommendations for reform.