Greece dropped in its press freedom ranking to join Hungary and three other EU countries with only “partly free” media systems in 2012, according to the annual Press Freedom Index released by Freedom House on Wednesday. The media in Bulgaria, Italy and Romania also rated as “partly free,” according to the report.
Hungary’s press freedom score (36) remained unchanged from 2011, following steep declines in the country’s ratings since new media laws were passed in 2010. The report cites continued concerns “regarding extensive legislative and regulatory changes that have tightened government control of the media. A series of rulings by Hungary’s Constitutional Court and legal amendments adopted to meet objections from the European Commission in 2011 and 2012 have done little to curb the power of a new media authority controlled by the ruling Fidesz party.”
Greece’s downgrade was due to an “increasingly hostile legal, political, and economic environment for the press,” along with “heightened legal and physical harassment of journalists,” according to the report.
Croatia—set to become the EU’s newest member in July 2013—also had only “partly free” media in 2012. The country’s accession will bring the number of EU country’s with “partly free” media to six of the EU’s 28 member states.
Freedom House press freedom scores are based on assessments of each country’s political, legal and economic environments. Scores between 1 and 30 represent “free” media systems. Scores between 31 and 60 represent “partly free” media.