Asia

Laos profile - media

Girl stands by satellite dishes Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The ruling communists control most of the media

The ruling Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) keeps a strict hold on the media.

The government owns most of the mainstream outlets, including the national TV and radio networks. Laos has 33 newspapers, 46 TV stations and 76 radio stations, according to a 2019 report in a government newspaper.

Privately-owned, entertainment-based magazines which avoid political coverage have emerged in recent years, says US-based NGO Freedom House.

"Laos is a 'black hole' from which little news emerges," says Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The law allows foreign media to set up bureaus only on condition that they submit their output for review by officials.

'Taboo' issues

Natural disasters and major investment projects with countries like Thailand, Vietnam and China "are among the highly sensitive issues that the government considers as taboo for public discussion and would rather that the mainstream media not touch", says the Southeast Asian Press Alliance, a press freedom NGO.

There were 2.5 million internet users by December 2018, including 2.2 million Facebook users (InternetWorldStats.com). Most online activity is conducted using smartphones.

Freedom House says the government "attempts to monitor social media usage for content and images that portray Laos negatively, and courts have handed down heavy sentences in response to individuals' posting of such material".

However, some issues - including the deadly collapse of a dam in 2018 - "have been controversial enough to prompt some criticism of the government among ordinary people".

The press

Television

Radio

News agency/internet