While freedom of the press is guaranteed by the constitution, political parties, the Orthodox Church and commercial interests have significant influence over the media.
Cyprus has 9 newspapers (Phileleftheros, Alithia, Haravghi, etc.), 7 TV channels and 7 radio stations. Direct interference in editorial work, growing media concentration and lack of transparency in media ownership hurt media pluralism and make journalists resort to self-censorship.
Although the physical integrity and safety of journalists are not threatened, the media are the target of verbal attacks by politicians, which contributes to a lack of freedom of expression. Informal relationships between politicians and media owners strengthen the influence of the former on the sector, as does a widespread sense of duty and loyalty to the government on the Cyprus issue.
Defamation is not a crime, but the Attorney General can authorize criminal prosecution against a media outlet if he/she considers it appropriate. There are regulatory safeguards for the protection of sources. Editorial autonomy is guaranteed by regulations, but there are limited provisions for mechanisms or procedures for the effective protection of journalists and prevention of political interference with their work. Direct interference in editorial work is not rare. Self-censorship is widespread.
The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affected the media, which became increasingly vulnerable to influences by commercial interests. The dependency on corporate advertising and sponsorship has increased commercial and owner influence over editorial content.
The Cyprus problem is a taboom and all journalists are expected to be “loyal” to the government’s narrative when it comes to this issue. Journalists questioning this line are often branded as “traitors. There are also state bans on the use of certain terms related to the Cyprus problem.
There are no arbitrary detentions or murder of journalists. There are incidents of verbal attacks by state officials against the media, which affects freedom of expression. Although there are no serious physical threats or attacks, journalists are often subjected to online harassment. There are allegations of surveillance and hacking of the devices and electronic archives of a journalist, who published a book about corruption in the government. Police investigation failed to resolve the case.