On September 2, Yerevan Press Club presented the first results of the Media Freedom Index in the six Eastern Partnership countries (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). The research is carried out in the framework of the “ENP East Media Freedom Watch” project, which is supported by the European Union and implemented by YPC in cooperation with Internews Ukraine and other partner NGOs from EaP countries. To inform about the situation with media in the six countries a special website has been launched. The website will also post the results of the Media Freedom Index, as well as the quarterly reports that are based on the study and describe the situation with media, providing recommendations for improvement.
The level of media freedom in each of the EaP countries is determined by a joint methodology through expert interviews. Ten experts (journalists, human rights advocates, lawyers, sociologists, public figures) from each country answer a set of 55 questions-criteria. For each question each expert rates the situation in the country by giving scores from 0 to 3 points (0 – the lowest level of media freedom, 3 – the highest). The criteria for assessment are the same for each country. They reflect the experts’ perception about the level of media freedom at the moment of the survey, and describe only the state of freedom of expression and media, regardless of the quality of journalism. The questions are broken into 4 blocks: policy, pursued in the media field (legislation, regulatory mechanisms, etc.); practice (cases of harassment, persecution, access to information, etc.); TV and radio broadcasting (level of independence of TV and radio companies, access to air, etc.); Internet and new media (advance, level of freedom, access, etc.). The expert assessments are summed up and thus the cumulative Media Freedom Index is calculated by a 1-7 numerical score (the higher the score the better the media situation).
At the Yerevan meeting with journalists, the YPC presented results of the pilot Index for the period of April 1 – June 30, 2013.
The cumulative rating list is headed by Georgia – index 6 (1,222 points) and Moldova -index 5 (1,111 points), which are followed by Armenia and Ukraine – index 4 (912 and 797 points, respectively). The least benign situation with the media freedom is in Azerbaijan – index 3 (523 points) and Belarus – index 2 (414 points).
As the results for the four components show, in the block “Policy” Georgia’s, Moldova’s and Armenia’s index is 6, the index of Ukraine is 5, Azerbaijan’s index is 4 and the index of Belarus is 2. The leader of the block “Practice” is Georgia (index 6), followed by Moldova (index 5), Armenia and Ukraine (index 4), Azerbaijan and Belarus (index 2). In the block “TV and Radio Broadcasting” Moldova and Georgia received index 5, Armenia – index 3, Ukraine and Azerbaijan – index 2, Belarus – index 1. In the “Internet and New Media” block Georgia, Armenia and Moldova have index 6, Ukraine – index 5, Azerbaijan and Belarus – index 2.