Czech Republic moves up 20 places in press freedom index – EURACTIV.com

Press freedom has improved in the Czech Republic according to this year’s Press Freedom Index, which now ranks the country 20th from the 40th place it achieved last year.

The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In 2021, the organization warned of a dramatic deterioration in access to information during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the end of the pandemic and the replacement of the former populist government, Czech media breathe a sigh of relief.

The index was published on World Press Freedom Day (May 3). The country’s score recorded a more modest increase from 76.62 in 2020 to 80.54 in 2021 out of a possible 100.

“We will not restrict any media in their activities and we will not hinder any journalists in their work,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said in a statement, admitting that many journalists work under difficult economic conditions.

“The practices of restricting attendance at press conferences, limiting access to information and selective placement of state advertisements are fundamentally alien to me,” he added.

In recent years, journalists have often been verbally attacked by former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who called several Czech media “mafia”. Babiš is the beneficial owner of the Agrofert holding company, an agrochemical company controlling MAFRA, one of the largest media houses in the country.

While press freedom has improved, RSF warns of the challenges that remain in the Czech media landscape.

“In the Czech Republic, freedom of the press is threatened by the high concentration of private media and the pressure exerted on public broadcasting,” says RSF.

The situation has also improved in neighboring Slovakia, as reported by EURACTIV.sk.

“Slovakia’s improved position in the rankings is explained by progress in the fight for justice for the murders of Jan Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. In 2021, the Supreme Court overturned the acquittal verdict of Marian Kočner and Alena Zsuzsová, giving hope for justice,” said Pavol Szalai, EU and Balkans manager at Reporters Without Borders, at EURACTIV Slovakia.

Greece, for its part, saw the largest drop among EU member states, falling 38 places after the murder of a journalist.

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