By Mick Meaney – RINF | A new major survey of world nations has found the majority of people support a free media and strongly object to government control on both traditional and Internet news organisations.
The poll was conducted by WorldPublicOpinion.org and involved 18,122 respondents in 20 of the world’s largest nations including the United States, Great Britain, China, Russia, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Argentina, Azerbaijan, France, Iran, Jordan, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, Poland, South Korea, Ukraine, and the Palestinian Territories.
“The principle that the media should be free of government control receives robust support from all corners of the world. With few exceptions, people think that the Internet should be free of government control as well” said WPO and PIPA director, Steven Kull.
However, an average of 36 percent of respondents from nations such as Russia and Muslim countries support regulation of news that could be potentially damaging to the government.
The survey also focused on Internet censorship. In China 71 percent of the public said “people should have the right to read whatever is on the Internet” with just 21 percent endorsing the government’s right to censorship.
Freedom House, a group that has been monitoring the press for 30 years has concluded that global freedom of the press is in “a clear decline”.
Jennifer Windsor, the group’s executive director, said: “For every step forward in press freedom last year, there were two steps back.”
In a statement the World Public Opinion said:
“The biggest area of controversy is over whether the government should have the ‘right to prevent the media from publishing information that it thinks will be politically destabilizing’. In the majority of countries the dominant view is that it should not and on average 55 percent have this view.
“However, in six-majority Muslim countries plus Russia substantial numbers think the government should have the right to restrict politically sensitive information. Majorities favor government controls in Jordan (66%), the Palestinian Territories (59%), and Indonesia (56%) while a plurality does in Iran (a plurality – 45 to 31%). Views are evenly divided in Egypt, Turkey and Russia.
“But this does not mean that these publics favor greater government regulation. In four of these countries, majorities think the media should have more freedom: Egypt (64%), the Palestinian Territories (62%), Jordan (56%) and Indonesia (53%). In the others, most want the media to have the same amount or more freedom, with only small minorities saying it should have less: Iran (9%), Russia (17%), Turkey (30%) and India (32%).”
The survey is being released as part of a series of international polls related to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
A recent report suggests the public are becoming tired of traditional news and are turning to the alternative media which is predominately found on the Internet.