Study Shows Impressive Progress in Developing Independent Media in

Study Shows Impressive Progress in Developing Independent Media in
Southeast Europe But Continuing Obstacles for Central Asia’s Media

WASHINGTON, July 6 /PRNewswire/ — In the newly released Media
Sustainability Index (MSI) 2003, IREX documents dramatic improvement
for the media environments in the countries of Southeast Europe during
the last year. In Central Asia, however, independent media continued
to face serious obstacles to development. The study also shows the
Caucasus region has witnessed gradual progress while, on average,
independent media development stagnated in Russia and the Western
Eurasian countries.

The MSI indicates:

* Croatia is the closest to independent media sustainability for 2003,
with the highest average score of any country reviewed.

* Uzbekistan has the lowest average rating of all 20 countries, and

Central Asia on average is the least hospitable region for independent

* Armenia shows slowly but steadily improving scores, mirroring gradual
improvement in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

* Belarus’ ranking dropped below its starting point in 2001.

The Media Sustainability Index is the only study that looks at the
entire media system in each of 20 countries in Southeast Europe and
Eurasia. The MSI analyzes freedom of speech, plurality of media
available to citizens, professional journalism standards, business
sustainability of media, and the efficacy of institutions that support
independent media. The MSI features country-by-country rankings using
a proven methodology and detailed input from media professionals in
the 20 countries. The study also offers a comparison of trends from
2001 to 2003 in order to show which countries have improved, where
backsliding has occurred, and what can be expected going forward.

The MSI, funded by USAID, offers a valuable tool for media development
practitioners, public officials, scholars and others concerned about
the region’s media. The new MSI 2003 can be found at

IREX (the International Research & Exchanges Board) is an
international nonprofit organization specializing in education,
independent media, Internet development, and civil society programs.
Through training, partnerships, education, research, and grant
programs, IREX develops the capacity of individuals and institutions
to contribute to their societies.

SOURCE International Research & Exchanges Board
CO: International Research & Exchanges Board; IREX
ST: District of Columbia, Russia
Web site:

07/06/2004 11:42 EDT