Freer than the UK, Germany, and Canada: Czechia shines in 2023 World Press Freedom Index

Czechia's media have surged up the annual rankings in the past three years.

Thomas Smith

Written by Thomas Smith Published on 03.05.2023 12:00:00 (updated on 03.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czechia has moved up an impressive six places in the latest edition of the World Press Freedom Index, which advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released today, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day. Czechia now ranks 14th out of 180 countries.

The report, which evaluates the ability of media organizations and journalists in different countries to report freely without facing adverse consequences, put Czechia as one of the best-performing countries in Central Europe and better than many of its Western neighbors.

Outperforming its neighbors

Czechia attained a score of 83 points (out of 100). Scores of over 85 points are classified as “good.” Impressively, the country ranked higher than Germany (21st), France (24th), Austria (29th), and Belgium (31st). It also ranked far higher than the U.S., which was listed in 45th place. Russia came 164th in the ranking, while North Korea took the last spot.

“Press freedom is defined as the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety”

Reporters Without Borders

The World's freest media

  • 1.Norway
  • 2.Ireland
  • 3.Denmark
  • 4.Sweden
  • 5.Finland

The Czech Republic was the best-performing country of the Visegrád Group: Slovakia came close behind, in the 17th position. Poland and Hungary, whose current governments have sizable control over large media channels, are far lower in the rankings – at 57th and 72nd respectively. 

Still, Czechia's press under threat

RSF concluded in its new report that Czechia’s “freedom of the press is threatened by the high concentration of privately owned media and the pressure exerted on public broadcasting.” 

Czechia’s highest score was in its “social indicator” (91), which evaluates social constraints resulting from denigration, and attacks on the press based on issues such as gender, class, ethnicity, and religion.

The country scored lowest in the “economic indicator” (66), which judges restrictions linked to governmental policies and media owners seeking to promote or defend their business interests. 

The worst countries for media freedom

  • 1.North Korea
  • 2.China
  • 3.Vietnam
  • 4.Iran
  • 5.Turkmenistan

The end of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s tenure may, in part, explain Czechia’s recent surge in the rankings. The billionaire, who was in power from 2017 to 2021, has power over a substantial part of Czech media due to his ownership of the Mafra publishing group. In the 2020 edition of the index, Czechia was ranked 40th.

Journalists and the media in Czechia will be pleased with the country’s strong progress in this year’s index – particularly given this tense political period in Europe.

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