Freedom of the Press 2004

Although journalists face a number of threats and constraints, Indian media continue to provide diverse and robust coverage and are the freest in South Asia. In recent years, the government has occasionally used the Official Secrets Act (OSA) against the press. Kashmiri journalist Iftikhar Ali Gilani, who was charged under the OSA and detained for seven months in 2002, was released in January 2003 after the military admitted that the case against him had been baseless. A case filed under the OSA in July against reporters from the online news portal was pending at year's end. Authorities also use other security laws, contempt of court charges, and criminal defamation legislation to curb the media. In the southern state of Tamil Nadu, a journalist was charged and jailed under antiterrorism legislation in April, and in November the state assembly passed a resolution calling for the arrest and imprisonment of six journalists following the publication of an article in a prominent national paper that criticized the state's chief minister. Intimidation and violence by a variety of actors remain a concern; one reporter was killed in September and another was abducted by militants in November. In addition, authorities occasionally beat, detain, or otherwise harass journalists. Conditions are particularly difficult in the insurgency-wracked state of Jammu and Kashmir, where militants routinely issue death threats against media personnel. Unidentified gunmen killed local editor Parvaz Mohammed Sultan in January, and in April a bomb attack on state-owned media outlets in Srinagar left five people dead. Other forms of coercion have also been employed against the Kashmiri media; in February, Reporters Sans Frontieres criticized a decision by the state government to stop placing official advertisements in the independent Kashmir Observer newspaper, thus depriving it of an important source of revenue. Faced with such pressures, some journalists practice self-censorship. Nevertheless, the privately owned print media, particularly the national and English-language press, provide diverse coverage and frequently criticize the government. The broadcast media are for the most part in private hands, but the state-controlled All India Radio enjoys a dominant position; its news coverage favors the government.

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score

(0 = best, 100 = worst)
(0 = best, 40 = worst)
(0 = best, 30 = worst)