Soft censorship practices

The research on #SoftCensorship during 2013 and 2014 has found practices belonging to the following categories: 

State advertising: use of public funds to announce public tenders and procurement, or for information campaigns to promote government policies, programs or service in media outlets. Abuse of state advertising would include advertising that promotes a particular office holder or political party, or when its placement is used to influence media editorial content.

Subsidies: assistance to a specific media house or media outlet, or to a media sector, provided by the state or a publicly funded body. A “hidden subsidy” is indirect financial assistance to selected media from public funds that is not officially defined and registered as a subsidy. Sometimes the state has adopted transparent and fair rules on state subsidies or advertising, but implementation is poor.

Paid “News”: paid content disguised as news, where financial arrangements are formalized with media outlets to promote a biased coverage of certain issues.

Bribery and payments: found at the most delinquent end of the spectrum, when journalists, editors and media outlets are offered—and sometimes seek—direct payments or other compensation to shape or slant their reporting. It is a form of soft censorship often used in countries where journalists are poorly paid to favour and reward positive coverage.

Other administrative pressures: are found when licenses, imports, audits or taxes are used as instruments of soft censorship, although the boundaries between these and hard censorship can be indistinct or overlapping. Onerous licensing regimes, restricting access to physical means of production, such as barring import of newsprint, or inspections and tax audits might be
used as harassment that imposes serious costs
and inconvenience on targeted media outlets or individuals, or means to shutter independent or critical voices.