The authorities did not have to use in 2002 the press law passed the previous year providing for up to three years in prison for publishing "false news." Criticism in the local press was extremely rare. But the sultan’s subjects could see a range of cable TV stations, such as the BBC, whose programmes contrasted with the stiffness of Brunei’s one TV station, controlled by the government.
The officially unrestricted growth of the Internet in the country made it impossible to censor material offensive to Islam or the royal family, which the law allows to be done.
The country’s second biggest newspaper, News Express, closed in September and its publisher, Peter Wong Lik Young, was arrested for tax evasion as he and his wife tried to flee the country leaving behinds debts of more than 3 million euros. Since the closure, Borneo Bulletin has been Brunei’s only daily paper. It has a picture of the sultan or news about him on its front page nearly every day.