THE UK has been ranked 26th on the World Press Freedom Index (WPFI) as it was revealed that media freedom is in a perilous state in a record number of countries.

The WPFI rates every country in the world based on a number of factors including its political, economic and social landscape.

Norway was ranked as the best country in the world while North Korea was ranked lowest.

The UK has an overall score of 78.51 out of 100 with the Index noting that the “British media landscape continues to suffer from a lack of pluralism”.

It says that three companies – News UK, Reach and Daily Mail and General Trust – “dominate the national newspaper market”.

It further notes that the BBC “continues to come under pressure, with the issue of its funding heavily politicised”.

The index is released just a week after media chaos erupted at the Scottish Tory conference where Rishi Sunak initially attempted to dodge reporters – a claim the Prime Minister has denied.

What else was said about the UK?

The WPFI noted that journalists across the UK are “largely free to work without significant cultural constraints” although it did express concern for the safety of journalists in Northern Ireland.

It also noted that no journalists have been killed or detained in the UK since the beginning of January 2023.

However, on the economic factors which influence the press, it was noted that budget pressures have been aggravated by the pandemic and that the difficulty of freelancing has left many struggling.

On the UK Government, it said: “Despite Government assurances that media freedom is a priority, legislative proposals with worrying implications for journalism continued to move through parliament.

“The arrest of journalists covering protests were also a chilling development in a country in which journalists have generally been able to operate freely.”

It also described the approval of an extradition of Julian Assange as a further source of alarm.

What about other countries?

An unprecedented 31 countries are deemed to be in a “very serious situation”, the lowest possible ranking in the report.

This marks an increase of 21 from two years ago with the environment for journalism considered “bad” in seven out of 10 countries and satisfactory in only three out of 10.

Meanwhile, the UN says that 85% of people live in countries where media freedom has declined in the past five years.

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Countries which dropped into the lowest category included Tajikistan, India, and Turkey while the Middle East was ranked as the world’s most dangerous region for journalists.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to a free and independent press and keeping journalists safe from threats of violence and intimidation in the UK.

"Through the Media Bill and the Digital Markets Unit we will deliver major benefits to help our public service broadcasters and newspapers remain sustainable. We have also put in place legal protections to ensure the press can carry out its vital role in our democracy."