Only half of Czechs perceive the media as free

Although trust in the press is lower in Visegrád Group countries, it is still slightly higher than in the United States

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Tomáš Klézl
A selection of Czech newspapers. (Aktuálně.cz/Facebook)

Media freedom across Central Europe is deteriorating according to most inhabitants of the Visegrád Group, with just 38 percent of people considering the media to be independent.

Data published by the Median agency reveals the rising distrust in the freedom of the press across the four countries.

Within the group, Czechs are the most likely to reject state or owner intervention in the functioning of the media. At the same time, Czechs most often see their media as free.

Almost half of Czechs think that the media can do their job currently without government intervention and censorship. In contrast, a quarter of people do not consider the media free.

Although not even half of Czechs perceive the media in their country as free, they still exceed the average of the Visegrád Group on this issue where just 38 percent consider their national media to be independent.

That number, however, is higher than other nations such as the United States, where only 36 percent of respondents trust the media to report the news fairly and accurately. In addition, 29 percent of the public said they either have “not very much” trust and 34 percent who said they have “none at all.”

In the Visegrád Group, a third believe they do not have freedom of the press in their country. Less than half of people in both Czechia and Hungary feel concerned about media freedom, unlike Poland where 63 percent of people are worried about press freedom.

About half of the population of all four countries think that media freedom has deteriorated in the last five years, however people are split by party lines. Supporters of the ruling Law and Justice party in Poland and of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Hungary think that the media is now freer than in the past.

In the Czech Republic, the supporters of the ANO movement think that the media freedom has worsened, despite ANO being in power from 2017 to 2021. They are, nevertheless, the least worried about the current situation, with Freedom and Direct Democracy voters being the most concerned.

Czechs are the most likely to disagree with the statement that the media owner has the right to interfere in its content — 62 percent are against it. According to 80 percent of Czechs, the government has no right to influence public service broadcasting.

In Czechia, 38 percent of people feel that the public service media does not represent their views, while 33 percent feel it does. Among the Visegrád Four, Czechs are the most opposed to the government supporting the media with subsidies or tax breaks. In Poland, on the other hand, almost half of the people back these measures.

Median based the survey on the responses of 4,069 respondents over the age of 18. 1,010 respondents came from the Czech Republic, 1,000 from Slovakia, 1,043 from Poland, and 1,016 from Hungary. Data collection took place between Feb. 1 and Feb. 17 of this year.

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