One party STRENGTHENED control over the media in Serbia

BFMI: One party STRENGTHENED control over the media in Serbia

The deterioration of media freedom in Serbia has accelerated under the current leadership, the Balkan Free Media Initiative (BFMI) said in a report. They called on the European Union to stop being a passive observer and to increase pressure on the authorities.

“Under the rule of Aleksandar Vučić, the space for free action of the media and alternative views on the narrative of the government has significantly decreased. The president has strengthened his party’s control over the media sector by ensuring that pro-government voices dominate the mainstream media through its influence on national broadcasters. “, they say in the report “The Invisible Hand of Media Censorship in the Balkans”, which focuses on Bulgaria, Serbia and Northern Macedonia.

As an example it is stated that they are During March, representatives of the ruling parties appeared in 87 percent of the news in prime time, and Vučić addressed the public live for 29 days that month.

“All media that criticize the government are constantly undermined either by direct verbal and physical attacks, or by the manipulation of the commercial market by state entities.”, the report said.

At the same time, it is added, the government claims that it is ready and willing to reform the media sector, but does not take any concrete steps in that direction.

The report points out that all large indices indicate a decline in media freedoms in Serbia under the current leadership, yes the government does not apply existing media laws, and public services and the main regulatory body are subject to state control due to financial dependence and rules on the appointment of their members.

Three methods for manipulating the media

“The media market in Serbia is oversaturated and controlled by several powerful owners, and many of them have close ties with the ruling Serbian Progressive Party and are under its influence, “the statement said.

State influence is further maintained through the distribution of advertising revenue, and the government is increasingly using state-owned firms to manipulate the commercial market by entering into lucrative partnerships and buying media.

The BFMI emphasizes that the measures from the Media Strategy must be implemented as soon as possible, and that the EU and civil society must put pressure on the government to fulfill its obligations before the next elections in 2022.

BFMI points out that We must not allow Serbia to “continue to pretend to implement reforms in the media sector in ways that are attractive to the EU”, while at the same time endangering media freedoms.

The report points to three methods used to manipulate the media market – control of public services and regulatory bodies, abuse of weak regulations on transparency of ownership and use of state subsidies to encourage clientelism in weak media markets.

Source: Beta

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