It has not been a good year for media, reports Freedom House in its annual Freedom of the Press survey.
The Middle East and North Africa have shown a “dramatic deterioration” in its ability to report news without restrictions in the past years, Freedom House said.
Like nearly every Arab country, Qatar maintains its rank as “not free” (purple in the image).
Kuwait is the only GCC country ranked “semi-free” (yellow). No Arab nation’s press is ranked “free” (green).
Among the results: Egypt was downgraded to “not free,” while Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia continued to rank among the worst countries in the world for media independence and press freedom.
Freedom House, which released the results in time for World Press Freedom Day, does hold out some hope for change.
“In 2010, we saw how readily governments in the Middle East turned to repression of the media,” said Karin Deutsch Karlekar, managing editor of the Freedom House study. Gains have to be implemented quickly or “this window of opportunity will be lost,” she said.
“The openings that have taken place early in 2011 give us hope that gains in the Middle East may lead the way to improvements in the global level of press freedom,” she said in an interview. But recent moves by the army in Egypt to restrict news coverage are worrying, she said.
Freedom House will release a full assessment of 196 countries and territories on Monday.
Image courtesy of Freedom House. Access full map (PDF) here.