There was a high risk of commercial and owner influence over editorial content in Malta, a report on press freedom found.
Political independence of the media was at high risk, according to a Media Pluralism Monitor report, since there was no law making political office incompatible with media ownership.
"This allowed the leading parties, that alternate in government, to become key players in the media market," the report said.
Basic protection for journalists was also facing greater risks, the report found.
The country moved from low to medium risk on giving basic protection to journalists, with the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom noting this was of particular concern.
"This area encompasses the fundamental conditions that are needed to exercise journalism and one’s freedom of expression," the report stated.
The downgrade from a low-risk to a medium-risk jurisdiction was notably influenced by the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in October last year, it said.
Her murder represented "the darkest hour for media freedom and media pluralism in the European Union since the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre in France," the organisation said.
"This crime has profoundly shaken Europe and has had an impact on its image as a bastion of human rights and democratic values," it added.
The study also criticised the law on the protection of whistleblowers in Malta, saying it did not protect people if they failed to first resort to internal reporting procedures or if they reported to the media.
The report found media in the country at high risk of not being socially inclusive, noting national news was not available in any of the minority languages.