A large-scale research project was thus planned and conducted from March to August 2010. This research included a deep probe into the media sector and the public’s behaviors and expectations. The methodology used to achieved this included a combination of: literature review; direct observations; key informant interviews with most relevant actors involved in the media sector; 6,648 close-ended interviews in more than 900 towns and villages of 106 districts, covering all 34 provinces of the country; an audience survey on more than 1,500 individuals run daily for a week; about 200 qualitative, openended interviews; and 10 community case studies. Such an effort guarantees that results presented here are fairly representative of the Afghan population at large.
Former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz formally launched Aaj News Television in Karachi on 21 May 2005 (www.dawn.com/2005/05/22/top3.htm, website of leading mainstream English daily Karachi Dawn, 22 May 2005). According to its website (www.aaj.tv), it has fully equipped bureaus in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad, making Aaj the first private channel to broadcast from inside Pakistan. Aaj also has “an Earth Station in Pakistan that broadcasts directly to the AsiaSat satellite with a footprint of over 60 countries.” Aaj offers “well defined programming blocks” of news, current affairs, infotainment, and entertainment. It has collaboration agreements with “partner news sources in more than 100 countries.”
Laos has 31 state-run radio stations and one national television network with 16 stations. Lao broadcasters compete with more developed Thailand, whose stations can reach all of Laos (“Laos to Modernize its Media,” www.voanews.com). Newspaper and magazine circulation is limited. Many of the rural areas, where 85% of Laotians live (Lao News Agency, www.kpl.net.la), are not easily accessible by road, and a relatively low literacy rate of 68.7% (World Factbook) also limits readership.
Low literacy (just over 60% of the population), poverty, poor infrastructure, and de facto government control of broadcast media shape the Cambodian media environment. The Constitution guarantees “freedom of expression, press, publication and assembly,” but human rights observers say journalists face intimidation. The country’s most important and popular television stations are state-run Cambodian National Television (TVK) and Cambodia Television Network (CTN), owned by Cambodian-Australian businessman Kit Meng, a strong supporter of Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Television dominates the Philippines’ mostly privately owned and market-oriented media, overtaking radio over the past decade. Newspapers rank third, but Internet usage is on the rise. Violence against broadcast journalists has marred the country’s claim to media freedom. Of the seven major TV networks, three are government-owned, but only one — NBN — is under the government’s operational control. NBN promotes official views but has lost audience share to private TV stations ABS-CBN and GMA, which sensationalize news and entertainment programs. TV is mostly in Tagalog and English. Over 150 radio networks broadcast in the Philippines. Manila Broadcasting Company is the largest with over 100 radio stations nationwide. Philippine Broadcasting Service, the only government-owned radio network, has over 30 stations. Most major networks are based in Manila, but provincial affiliates operate independently due to differences in urban-provincial needs. With much programming in local languages, radio tends to promote regionalism.
Thai press has a high level of freedom and does not hesitate to criticize government leaders, but most broadcasters are under state control. Internet use is increasing and provides a forum for political debate; it is, however, subject to state censorship, particularly of content that is seen as pornographic or offensive to Thailand’s widely respected royal family. Television has by far the largest audience, but Thais tend to rely on newspapers for news.
Government controls and self-censorship keep the media in prosperous, well-educated Singapore unusually clear of any antigovernment, extremist, or otherwise objectionable material. A government agency runs all broadcast stations, and the ruling party indirectly controls the print media. A variety of restrictions and the threat of libel suits discourage political criticism across all media outlets. This small island republic’s 4.6 million people boast a 92.5% literacy rate, a per capita GDP of nearly USD$50,000 (World Factbook), and a 58.6% Internet access rate (Internet World Stats). There is no prepublication censorship, but media watchdog Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 141 out of 169 in its Worldwide Press Freedom Index for 2007, citing “rigorous self-censorship” in coverage of domestic politics. Internet access is regulated, and private ownership of satellite dishes is banned. Singapore government officials also have a record of winning defamation suits against foreign publications (BBC Country Profile, news.bbc.co.uk).
Radio is the most important source of information in Uruguay and plays a significant role in shaping public opinion. A few television stations are identified with political parties, but their affiliation is not as strong as that of newspapers, which continue to impact public opinion in this highly literate country. The state-owned Servicio Oficial de Radio, TV y Espectaculos (SODRE) is a public service institution designed to guarantee Uruguayan citizens the “right to information, freedom of expression, and access to high-quality radio products.” The audience share for state-owned media tends to be low. Freedom of the press, which is guaranteed by Article 29 of the Constitution, is respected in Uruguay, according to Reporters Without Borders and UNESCO. Half of the population has access to the Internet, but only 5% read the news online. Use of emerging media in Uruguay follows the trend in Latin America, with a marked preference for the social networking websites Facebook and Orkut. Cable TV is the first telecommunications sector to experience the effects of the recession. Mobile phone penetration is very high.
Indonesia has one of the world’s freest media environments, with countless new mainstream and Islamic extremist outlets appearing since the fall of former President Suharto in 1998. Reporting and critical commentary range from thoughtful analysis of government policy to harsh critiques of alleged US “conspiracies” for world domination. The top broadcast stations and publications are all privately owned; state-run media have limited impact.
The Burmese Government strictly regulates media across all outlets and genres. Print and broadcast media predominantly carry formulaic reports on the military regime’s activities and accomplishments, and even literature and entertainment are censored. The public does, however, receive uncensored media through widespread access to foreign radio, and a limited number with satellite TV can view Western and Burmese exile news. Low household income is a constraint on media consumption.
Reporters Without Borders’ 2008 Press Freedom Index ranks Moldova 98th, a significant drop from its 2007 spot (81). The year was characterized by continued attempts by the government to control the media and by increased harassment of journalists and media organizations critical of the government. The problem is less the legal framework, which is generally adequate, than it is inconsistent implementation. Pro-government media receive preferential treatment. In several instances in 2007 and 2008, journalists from more critical organizations were hindered from attending or covering events. More recently, the entry of Romanian journalists into Moldova to cover protests after the 5 April 2009 elections was blocked.
Sweeping social and economic changes triggered by more than two decades of reform in China have led to equally sweeping changes in China’s vast, state-controlled media environment, particularly in the quantity and diversity of media sources and the development of the Internet. The Communist Party of China (CPC) not only tolerates much greater diversity in the media, but has strongly encouraged greater efforts to provide media content that resonates with the lives and interests of the population. Despite these changes, however, all pertinent information continues to be filtered through party censors to ensure that it is consistent with official policy. The party exercises especially tight control over the core mainstream media which deliver domestic and international news along with politically sensitive information. These media constitute the main vehicle for conveying the policy preferences and decisions of the central leadership.