Belize - Media

Belize is connected by radiotelegraph and telephone with Jamaica, Guatemala, Mexico, and the US. This service, along with cable and telex services, is operated by Cable and Wireless Ltd. An automatic telephone network, covering the entire country, is operated by the Belize Telecommunications, which was fully privatized in early 1992. In 1997, Belize had 31,000 mainline telephones and 3,023 cellular phones in use.

The Belize National Radio Network, a government station in Belize City, transmits in English and Spanish. The first privately owned commercial radio station began broadcasting in 1990. As of 1998 there were 1 AM and 12 FM radio stations. In 2001, there were eight privately-owned television stations and several cable stations. In 1997, there were 133,000 radios and 41,000 Television sets in use nationwide. In 2000, two Internet service providers were serving 15,000 subscribers.

There are no daily newspapers. The largest weeklies in 2002 were Amandala ( Black Power , circulation 45,000) and The Reporter (6,500), both published in Belize City. Belize Today, a monthly publication out of Belmopan, has a circulation of 17,000. The Belize Press Association was formed in 1995.

Though Belize's Constitution assures the freedom of speech and press, there are provisions for the curtailment of these freedoms, including a law forbidding citizens from questioning financial statements submitted by public officials. The Supreme Court has warned journalists that questioning the integrity of the Court or of its members could result in criminal charges. The government makes free use of Belize's largest radio facilities to produce partisan advertisements and party propaganda. The Belize Broadcasting Authority (BBA) asserts its right to delete defamatory or libelous material from political broadcasts.

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