Luxembourgh Times

Luxembourg drops more in freedom of press ranking

Journalism blocked or severely impeded in 3 out of 4 countries - EU states among them

© Photo credit: AFP

A lack of government transparency caused Luxembourg to lose three places in an annual ranking of freedom of press, as the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) group that compiled it also criticised the fact that state agencies "still tend to refuse to provide information to journalists".

Luxembourg now ranks 20th in the list, which RSF called "quite good", given that many other European Union countries are faring far worse. Out of the first 20 countries in the global list, only 11 are EU members, while Bulgaria, Hungary and Malta are classed 112th, 92nd and 81st, respectively.

“Luxembourg’s media are limited structurally by the country’s small size and the fact that their interests often conflict with those of decision-makers and businessmen”, according to the report, which came out on Tuesday.

The Grand Duchy's relationship with the media is often bumpy, with the head of the industry lobby saying that transparency was something for dictatorships in a recent row about a contract with a private broadcaster - paid with €10 million in public money - that has been kept out of public sight.

Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has also said he worried that transparency may hurt the country's business appeal and groups representing journalists, environmentalists, labour and others kicked off a pressure campaign for more transparency just one day before the RSF report came out.

Scandinavian countries are topping the ranking, with Norway leading the pack for the 5th year running, followed by Finland, Sweden and Denmark.

Germany was a notable loser, dropping two places to 13th after attacks on journalists by extremists during protests against pandemic restrictions. France remained 34th and Belgium gained one place, finishing 11th.

This year, only 12 of the Index’s 180 countries can claim to offer a favourable environment for journalism, as opposed to 13 countries last year, according to Reporters Without Borders. Journalism is "completely or partly blocked" in three out of four countries, "a dramatic deterioration in people's access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage".