Brief Historical Overview
The Press in Cyprus gradually began to develop to a limited extent during the British rule on the island in 1878. Earlier on, due to the long oppression by the Ottoman administration, the circulation of a newspaper was unthinkable. The first Cypriot newspaper circulated on August 29th 1878, marking the beginning of the history of Cypriot journalism and printing in Cyprus. After the end of WW II, the Press began to flourish and the principles of freedom and freedom of the press as well as the right to express oneself freely began to spread on the island.
Following independence in 1960, along with the Press, the Cyprus radio and television began to develop.
However, it took 30 years from Cyprus independence for private radio to also become introduced in Cyprus, mainly due to the political problem facing the country.
Today, Cyprus enjoys full freedom of expression and freedom of the press through a pluralism of information in print and electronic media.
Freedom of the Press
The press in Cyprus is a free and independent institution and is not subject to intervention or control by any state authority.
The freedom of the press is enshrined in the Cyprus Republic’s constitution which stipulates: “Every person has the right to freedom of speech and expression in any form. This right includes freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart information and ideas without interference by any public authority and regardless of frontiers.”
The proliferation of newspapers in Cyprus - both Cypriot and foreign - reflecting a wide range of opinions and ideologies, attests to the plurality of views prevailing in the country and the freedom they enjoy. Criticism of persons in office, public figures, state institutions and government policies, and the freedom to expose malpractices where these occur, are accepted as a healthy manifestation of democracy.
The 1989 Press Law safeguards the freedom of the press, the unhindered circulation of newspapers, the right of journalists not to disclose their sources of information and access to official information.
Non-statutory guidelines have been laid down and journalists are expected to exercise self-regulation in the absence of a functioning Press Council to deal with complaints or non-compliance with journalistic standards.
Free access to information
Under the Press Law, all journalists, Cypriot or foreign, have the right to free access to state sources of information, freedom to seek and acquire information from any competent authority of the Republic and the freedom to make this public. The authority concerned must give the requested information unless it pertains to state or public security, constitutional or public order, public morals or the protection of the honour and rights of third parties.
All journalists, Cypriot or foreign, have the right not to reveal their sources of information and to refuse to give testimony without being liable to prosecution for doing so.
The only exception is in instances where a journalist publishes information regarding a criminal offence. S/he may then be obliged by the Court examining the case or the coroner to reveal his source, provided that the Court or the coroner is satisfied that the following preconditions concur:
(a) the information is clearly related to the criminal offence
(b) the information cannot be obtained otherwise
(c) reasons of superior and imperative public interest require that the information be revealed.
The right to reply
Persons, organizations or public institutions that are named or indirectly referred to in a report or article have the right to reply if they consider the information concerning themselves as untrue or misleading. Their reply must be published, free of charge, within three days of its receipt, giving it the same prominence as the initial report.