License to Censor: The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom

A new Freedom House report, License to Censor: The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom, notes that media regulation is one of the most common and pernicious ways of restricting media freedom around the world. The broadcast sector in many media environments has opened up dramatically in recent years, with a shift from state dominance to a mix of private and state-owned outlets and a growth in cable and satellite channels that compete with terrestrial options. Yet despite these positive trends, official attempts to regulate print and broadcast media continue to be one of the prime methods of restricting media freedom and exerting control over content. A report by the Center for International Media Assistance, Registering Reporters: How Licensing of Journalists Threatens Independent News Media, found that licensing continues to thrive as one way to control the press, with about one out of every four governments examined in the report playing a role in approving who can work as a journalist and who cannot. Panelists discussed examples where regulation restricts media diversity or freedom of expression and provided recommendations for reform.

Watch a video recording of the event here:

License to Censor:
The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom


Anwar Iqbal

Karin Deutsch Karlekar
Freedom House

Courtney C. Radsch
Freedom House

Steven Strasser
City University of New York

Thursday, October 20, 2011
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

About the speakers:

Anwar Iqbal is a correspondent for Dawn and Dawn TV, based in Washington, DC. He has over 25 years of experience with various international media organizations, including United Press International, India Abroad News, and the Observer. Iqbal has interviewed numerous world leaders, including U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, South African President Nelson Mandela, and Queen Elizabeth II. He was an Alfred Friendly Press Fellow with the Chicago Tribune and a Reuters Fellow at Green College. Iqbal earned his master’s degree in international journalism from City University in London and his bachelor’s degree from the University of Karachi in Pakistan. He is fluent in English and Urdu, and knows Punjabi, Bengali, Pashto, and Persian.

Dr. Karin Deutsch Karlekar is the managing editor of Freedom of the Press, an annual index published by Freedom House that tracks trends in media freedom worldwide. She coordinates the research, ratings, and editorial processes for the index, and writes several of the country reports. In addition, she led the development of the methodology for a new index of Internet and digital media freedom published in 2009 and coordinated its pilot edition. She regularly serves as a spokesperson for Freedom House on media issues, and has represented the organization at numerous conferences, workshops, and events on the topics of media indicators, digital media freedom, and press freedom. She also represents Freedom House in the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network, and served as convener of IFEX’s governing council from 2006 to 2009. Karlekar has conducted research, assessment, and advocacy missions to Nigeria, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka, among other countries, and has traveled extensively in Asia and Africa. Before joining Freedom House, she was an editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit and served as a consultant to Human Rights Watch. Karlekar earned her doctorate in Indian history from Cambridge University, England.

Courtney C. Radsch is an international media expert and published author with more than 11 years of journalism and media experience in the U.S. and Middle East. She currently manages the Global Freedom of Expression Campaign at Freedom House, where she leads international advocacy missions and trains civil society advocates. She often serves as a spokesperson for Freedom House on freedom of expression issues, with an emphasis on social media and the Middle East. Her recent appearances include PBS, al-Jazeera, al-Hurra, NPR and VOA. She regularly writes for the Huffington Post, Oxford Analytica, and Arab Media & Society and is the author of several book chapters related to media and the Middle East. Her Arab Media blog is one of the longest running on the topic and she is turning her PhD dissertation, The Revolution will be Blogged: Cyberactivism in Egypt, into a book. Radsch holds a master’s degree from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She is proficient in Arabic, French, and Spanish. Her Twitter handle is @courtneyr.

Steven Strasser is an associate professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of the CIMA report, Registering Reporters: How Licensing of Journalists Threatens Independent News Media. He began his career as a reporter for the Miami Herald and went on to work as a writer, correspondent, and editor at Newsweek. In New York, he wrote for Newsweek’s international and national affairs departments. Overseas, he served as Moscow correspondent and Hong Kong bureau chief. As managing editor of Newsweek International, Strasser supervised the Europe, Asia, and Latin America editions. He received a National Headliner Award and three Overseas Press Club Awards for his work in the former Soviet Union, China, and Hong Kong. Strasser taught as an adjunct journalism professor at Rutgers University and Purchase College. He co-authored the memoirs of Abu Ghraib’s commanding general, Janis Karpinski, edited the memoirs of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Mark Felt (the Watergate source known as “Deep Throat”), and has edited several other books. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a master’s degree from Columbia University.

The Center for International Media Assistance, an initiative of the National Endowment for Democracy, brings together a broad range of media experts with the goal of strengthening the support for and improving the effectiveness of media assistance programs by providing information, building networks, and conducting research on the indispensable role independent media play in creating sustainable democracies around the world.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports the expansion of freedom around the world. Freedom House supports democratic change, monitors freedom, and advocates for democracy and human rights. Since its founding in 1941 by prominent Americans concerned with the mounting threats to peace and democracy, Freedom House has been a vigorous proponent of democratic values and a steadfast opponent of dictatorships of the far left and the far right.