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Free Speech According to Freedom House, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that has surveyed international press freedom for 20 years, print and broadcast news media are least encumbered by laws, administrative constraints, political and commercial influence in Germany. Canada ranks second and the U.S. third out of the 30 countries on the list, as published in The Economist. Freedom of the press can be an indicator of political and economic liberty generally, as can advertising. There isn't, however, any notable correlation between a country's rank for journalistic autonomy and the size of its ad industry, as measured against the gross domestic product (GDP). Germany ranks only 16th in terms of ad saturation, and Canada is 23rd. (Zenith Media compiled the advertising and economic statistics.) Indeed, the ranks agree in only one case, South Africa, at 14th on both lists. Some of the underlying numbers may be goofy: Colombia, for example, has the highest advertising-to-GDP ratio (the underground economy there, which is not figured into the GDP, tilts the ratio upward) but one of the most repressed presses. And does the Czech Republic really have a freer press than Great Britain, France or Italy? --Alan Gottesman (westendal pobox.com) is principal of West End Consulting.


THE GOTTESMAN FILE
Does a free press require a thriving ad industry to flourish? It doesn't appear so, according to recent surveys.

.....Country.....Press-freedom rank.....Ad saturation
.....Germany.....1.....16
.....Canada.....2.....23
.....U.S......3.....5
.....Portugal.....4.....7
.....Spain.....5.....21
.....Czech Republic.....6.....20
.....Japan.....7.....18
.....Great Britain.....8.....3

Sources: Freedom House, Zenith Media