This chapter provides a brief introduction and analysis of media freedom theory. It examines the questions ‘what is media freedom?’ and ‘what are the benefits of a free press?’ It discusses the relevance of existing theories of press freedom, largely conceptualized with reference to the West, for analysis of media systems in Asia. It argues that while it is impossible to formulate a grand typology of Asian media, several trends can be identified across the region. The chapter argues that common factors are constraining media freedom across multiple Asian states. These constraints are discussed under four subheadings: state actors and institutions, economics and ownership, journalistic norms and ethics, and new technologies and social media.