Taiwan outpaces all other Asian countries in terms of how residents rate the level of domestic media freedom, according to a report released by Gallup Inc, a research-based performance-management consulting firm.
As many as 86 percent of Taiwanese interviewed in the survey said the news media in their country enjoyed considerable freedom, with only 9 percent feeling otherwise.
The “yes” ratio was the highest among all Asian countries and areas covered in the study and the 17th-highest globally.
Taiwan was one spot behind the US, but ahead of France (23rd).
Gallup surveyed people aged 15 and older in 133 countries and areas between February and December last year to gauge perceptions of domestic media freedom.
Six of the top 10 countries were in Europe. Finland headed the list, with 97 percent of respondents saying the Finnish media was free.
The Gallup report said popular perceptions about media freedom tend to align with expert assessments, such as those from Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders.
However, opinions in several countries indicate that people have a tendency to perceive the level of media freedom in their country as being higher than independent, external evaluations suggest, the report added.
For example, in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait and Liberia, 80 percent or more of respondents said their media are free, although Freedom House does not classify the media in any of those places as “free.”
Meanwhile, although 89 percent of Cambodians believed their media to be “free” — the 12th-highest in the world — Freedom House rated the media in that country as “not free” in its report for last year.
Hong Kong was the closest Asian country to Taiwan in the Gallop survey rankings at 19th place, with 85 percent of respondents perceiving their media to be free. However, Freedom House -classified Hong Kong media as only “partly free.”
Japan ranked 64th and South Korea 87th place in the poll. Freedom House rated Japan’s media as “free” and South Korea’s as “partly free.”
Singapore lagged behind 89th-ranked China, finishing in 96th place in the poll. Freedom House rated the media in both countries as “not free.”