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Greece's 'partly free' press falls further in world rankings

Ranking puts Greece 92nd out of 197 for press freedom

19-point decline in Greece's press freedom score was greater than that of Bahrain and the Central African Republic (both down 16 points). However, these countries were placed 188th and 170th, respectively, in the rankings

A man walks in front of a graffiti depicting a TV screen with no signal in central Athens (Photo: Reuters) A man walks in front of a graffiti depicting a TV screen with no signal in central Athens (Photo: Reuters) Greece's media is only "partly free" and its score in a major international press freedom index experienced the sharpest fall of all countries in the last five years, according to a major study published on Thursday.

According to the latest Freedom of the Press report, issued by Freedom House, in 2013 Greece is ranked 92nd out of 197 countries, with a score of 46 on a scale of 100. That puts it behind Mozambique but ahead of Angola. 

(Graphic: Freedom House) (Graphic: Freedom House) In 2009, Greece scored 29 points in the same index, putting it in the "free" press category.

Based in the US, Freedom House says it is an "independent watchdog organisation dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world".

"Greece, following its decline to the Partly Free category in 2012, fell a further five points in 2013. This was caused in large part by the government’s abrupt shutdown of the public broadcaster Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) in an opaque manner in June. A new entity, New Hellenic Radio, Internet and Television (Nerit), will launch in 2014 with a drastically reduced staff. In addition, the year featured an increase in libel cases and the use of surveillance against journalists, as well as the nontransparent awarding of telecommunications licenses," the report said.

(Graphic: Freedom House) (Graphic: Freedom House) The 17-point decline in Greece's score was greater than that of Bahrain and the Central African Republic (both down 16 points). However, these countries were placed 188th and 170th, respectively, in the rankings.

While Greece had the worst ranking in the entire European Union, the press in Italy (64th), Hungary (71st), Bulgaria (78th), Croatia (83rd), Romania (84th) were also deemed only "partly free".

Overall, the report found that global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in over a decade, with only 1 in 7 people live in a country with a “free” press. The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states, including Egypt, Libya, and Jordan; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

Freedom of the Press 2014 found that despite positive developments in a number of countries, most notably in sub-Saharan Africa, the dominant trends were reflected in setbacks in every other region.

(Graphic: Freedom House) (Graphic: Freedom House) In February, a press freedom study from Reporters without Borders put Greece in 99th place out of 180 countries. That news was ignored by most of the Greek media.

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