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Media Sustainability Index (MSI) - Europe & Eurasia

Overview of MSI Europe & Eurasia

The 2014 MSI study for Europe & Eurasia is marked by an overall constancy of scores, for better or worse. Out of the 21 countries studied, 13 showed a change in score of less than 0.10. Of the remaining eight showing significant change, five were headed in a negative direction while three showed improvement.

The lack of change was in some cases a sign of resilience and part of a positive overall trend: for example, in Albania, Kosovo, and Moldova panelists noted that although many challenges remain, the media as a whole are becoming more resilient to attempts to subject them to political control. However, in some cases, such as Ukraine and Serbia, the unchanged scores reflected a sense of frustration on the part of panelists—and a resolve to play a stronger role in bringing about change.

The media situation in Ukraine had been deteriorating almost annually since its high of 2.37 in the 2006/2007 study. In a tumultuous year, the score remained about the same: just 0.08 less than 2013 but still on a negative arc. Toward the end of 2013, the authorities proposed a series of laws, called by some “dictatorship laws,” which criminalized libel and allowed for the state to block websites for publishing content they deemed illegal—without any involvement from the courts. The laws were canceled in January 2014, but not before they, combined with targeted attacks on the media, drove many journalists to take part in the EuroMaydan protests that eventually led to Yanukovych’s ouster. Whether or not the media can rebound—and whether they will be given space to do so by the government and oligarch-owners—will no doubt be the subject of much discussion over the coming year.

Azerbaijan was one of the most prominent backsliders. It faltered in every objective, sinking to an overall score of 1.17—falling from 1.83 last year and sliding dangerously close to the MSI’s lowest category: “unsustainable, anti-free press.” Once, the government tolerated opposition media, even if they were poorly funded and not professional; now such media are becoming scarce. The few independent media are facing severe restrictions.

Positive developments, however, are worth noting.

Some of the most dramatic changes in MSI scores for 2014 were seen in Georgia, which climbed nearly a half a point in its overall MSI score, up to 2.63. Boosted by improvements in all objectives, but especially in the legal support for freedom of the press and business management, Georgia’s scores lifted it over a significant threshold on the MSI scale, landing solidly in the “near-sustainability” category. The scores reflect a number of improvements, including major legislative progress that has helped transform Georgia’s state-owned media into a public service. Also, Kyrgyzstan picked up almost a third of a point, climbing out of the “unsustainable, mixed system” category to a 2.11, just over the boundary into “near sustainability.” Of particular note there, attempts by the legislature to pass restrictive legislation, some modeled on recent Russian laws meant to stymie critical voices, were thwarted by media and civil society lobbying.

For more information or to request a hard copy, email msi@irex.org. Please provide name, full mailing address, region(s), MSI publication year, and quantity.

MSI Europe & Eurasia Chapters

Albania  Armenia | Azerbaijan | Belarus | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Bulgaria | Croatia | Georgia | Kazakhstan | Kosovo | Kyrgyzstan | Macedonia | Moldova | Montenegro | Romania | Russia | Serbia | Tajikistan | Turkmenistan | Ukraine | Uzbekistan

Download Full Version of Europe & Eurasia MSI 2014 (PDF)

MSI E&E Data

At an average overall score of 1.83, the region continues its stalled climb up from its low-water mark of 1.79 in 2010. On average, countries have improved 14 percent over the life of the study. However, the region remains well below its high-water mark of 2.05 in 2006/2007, before the financial crisis hit.

MSI E&E Score Compilation

How Does IREX Define and Measure Sustainability?

By “sustainability” IREX refers to the ability of media to play its vital role as the “fourth estate.” How sustainable is a media sector in the context of providing the public with useful, timely, and objective information? How well does it serve as a facilitator of public discussion? To measure this, the MSI assesses five “objectives” that shape a media system: freedom of speech, professional journalism, plurality of news, business management, and supporting institutions. Read the complete MSI Methodology for more information on how this is accomplished.

Contact Us / Request a Hard Copy

For more information or to request a hard copy, email msi@irex.org. Please provide name, full mailing address, region(s), MSI publication year, and quantity.

Download PDF Versions

2014: Full Version
2013: Full Version
2012: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2011: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2010: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2009: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2008: Cover, Pub Ino & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2006/7: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary
2005: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2004: Executive Summary | Full Version
2003: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2002: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive Summary | Full Version
2001: Cover, Pub Info & TOC | Executive SummaryFull Version

Acknowledgement

The Europe and Eurasia MSI 2014 was made possible by a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

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