Peninsula - 4/6/2006
Qatar stands at second position — behind Kuwait and, at a global rank of 136 in press freedom. Qatar also has a rating of 61 and its media is categorised as "Not Free" in the 'Table of Press Freedom Rankings' for April 2006, released recently by the New York-based Freedom House.
In the GCC region, Kuwait ranks 116th with a rating of 56 and the Kuwaiti media is listed as 'Partly Free' in the table, which divides various countries around the world in three categories — Free, Partly Free and Not Free. Qatar, is followed in the region by the UAE whose press freedom is ranked at 147th in the world with a rating of 65, under the category, 'Not Free'. Neighbours Bahrain ranks 158th with a rating of 72 under the category, "Not Free' with Saudi Arabia ranking 172nd and rating of 79 and category, 'Not Free'.
In a more specific table listing countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Qatar ranks at No-9 , with only one country in the region — Israel — who tops the ranks, scoring a rating of 28 and a category of "Free' media. Kuwait ranks second in the region with a rating of 56 and "Partly Free" followed on the third position by Lebanon, with a rating of 60 and "Partly Free" media. Media in all other countries of the Mena region is categorised as "Not Free" with Palestinian territories ranking at 18 in the list of 19 countries, with a rating of 86. The last on the list is Libya with a rank of 19 and rating, 96 for a 'Not Free' media.
The website of the Freedom House describes itself as: "an independent non-governmental organisation that supports the expansion of freedom in the world. Freedom House was established in 1941 in New York City. It emerged from an amalgamation of two groups that had been formed, with the quiet encouragement of President Franklin D Roosevelt, to encourage popular support for American involvement in World War II at a time when isolationist sentiments were running high in the US." The website, www.freedomhouse.org, however does not explain the basis of these rankings, ratings or categorization.
Some of the media powerhouses of the world, US, UK, Canada, Australia and India, among others, also rank much below Scandinavian countries and the Benelux, who top the list of countries having the most free media.
US, with a category of "Free" media ranks 22nd, with a rating of 16, Canada at 26th place with a rating of 18, Australia ranks 31st with a rating of 19 while theUK ranks 34th with a rating of 19 for a "Free"media. India's media is categorised as 'Partly Free' and ranks 82nd with a rating of 37, scoring below countries such as Mongolia at 78th rank and rating of 34 and Italy at the 80th position and rating of 35 under the same category of press freedom.
Leading the Freedom House table is Finland, which ranks 1st in press freedom with a rating of nine for a "Free Media' followed at second place by Iceland, with Denmark on the third position, followed by Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland. Lichtenstein holds the 10th rank in the list of countries with a free media. These countries also top the regional list of Western Europe for free media.
At the rock bottom of the list, ranking 194th is North Korea with a rating of 97 under the category "Not Free" media. Israeli Occupied Territories/ Palestinian Authority, Belarus, Equatorial Guinea, Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Burma, Cuba, Libya and Turkmenistan are listed before North Korea.