History of Mongolian media

Since the collapse of the Soviet style system in 1990, the media has undergone large reforms which have allowed greater diversity and freedom of the press which make it one of the most free in the region. Censorship of media outlets is forbidden under the 1998 Media Freedom Law. In its 2013 report, Reporters Without Borders classified the media environment as 98rd out of 179, with 1st being most free.


Mongolian press began in 1920 with close ties to the Soviet Union under the Mongolian Communist Party, with the Unen (Truth) newspaper similar to the Soviet Pravda and Dzaluuchuudyn Unen (Young People's Truth), founded by the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Youth League in 1924; and Ulaan Od (Red Star) founded by the Ministries of Defense and Public Security following respectively in 1930. Until reforms in the 1990s, the government had strict control of the media and oversaw all publishing, in which no independent media was allowed. For 70 years, the sole source of information for the population was the state-run Mongolian National Broadcaster. The dissolution of the Soviet Union had a significant impact on Mongolia, where the one-party state grew into a mulit-party democracy, and with that, media freedoms came to the forefront.

1990s-present day 

A new law on press freedom, drafted with help from international NGOs on August 28, 1998 and enacted on January 1, 1999, paved the way for media reforms. The Mongolian media currently consists of around 300 print and broadcasting outlets. The press, in all forms, carries criticism of the government and "heavy handed" police tactics during demonstrations, though journalists remain at risk of laws criminalising defamation and reporting on "state secrets". Despite laws against censorship, a small number of outlets were censored that reported on corruption of government officials, which have often led the opposition to accuse the governing Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party of using the media to ensure its success in elections. The government encourages press freedom; head of government Miyegombo Enkhbold spoke of “journalists who fight social injustice and work hard to develop a free press”. To avoid libel offenses, the independent media undergo a degree of self-censorship. Globe International, an independent media watchdog, was set up in 1999 in the capital which aims to protect media freedom and expression.

Since 2006, the media environment has been improving with the government debating a new Freedom of Information Act, and the removal of any affiliation of media outlets with the government. Market reforms have led to an increasing number of people working in the media year on year, along with students at journalism schools. Though reforms are continuing, the legal system offers little protection for journalists who criticise government officials. The Globe International organisation conducted a study between 2001 and 2005 which found that 60% of legal cases were lost by the media, with 10% winning and 32% settling the case. The Press Institute of Mongolia conducts and publishes the "Monitoring Mongolian Media" survey, outlining the current status of the media.

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