WASHINGTON — Taiwan outpaces all other Asian countries in terms of how its people rate the level of media freedom in the country, according to a report released by Gallup Inc., a research-based performance-management consulting firm.
Up to 86 percent of Taiwanese people interviewed in the Gallup survey said the news media in their country enjoy a lot of freedom, with only 9 percent feeling otherwise.
The “yes” ratio was the highest among all the Asian countries and areas covered in the study and 17th-highest in global terms.
Taiwan was one spot behind the United States, but ahead of France (23rd).
Gallup surveyed people aged 15 and older in 133 countries and areas between February and December 2011 to gauge how they perceived media freedom in their countries.
Six of the top 10 countries are in Europe, with Finland leading the list, where 97 percent of the respondents said the Finnish media have a huge amount of freedom.
The Gallup report said people’s perceptions about the amount of freedom their media have typically align with expert assessments, such as those from Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.
However, the report went on, opinions in several countries indicate that people perceive a level of media freedom that is higher than independent, external evaluations would suggest.
For example, in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait and Liberia, 80 percent or more of the respondents to the Gallup poll said their media are free, although Freedom House does not classify the media in any these countries or areas as “free.”
Meanwhile, 89 percent of the Cambodian respondents perceived their media as “free” — the 12th highest ratio worldwide — but Freedom House rated the media in that country as “not free” in its 2011 report.
Similarly, Hong Kong was closest to Taiwan among Asian neighbors at 19th place in the Gallup survey, with 85 percent of respondents perceiving their media are free. However, Freedom House classified Hong Kong media as only “partly free.”
Japan ranked 64th and South Korea was at 87th place in the Gallup poll. Freedom House rated Japan’s media as “free” and South Korea’s as “partly free.”
Singapore lagged behind 89th ranking China in 96th place in the Gallup poll, although Freedom House rated the media in both countries as “not free.”