by Mark Worth
Political and business elites have gained control over many public and private media outlets in Bosnia, Serbia, and Montenegro — mostly through non-transparent privatization, and advertising and budgetary support to loyal media. Consequently, media freedoms and freedom of expression in these countries are seriously impaired, as evidenced by the declining trend in the indexes of media sustainability and press freedom.
Even some media that had been known for professional reporting in the public interest are now under the direct control of ruling elites and large businesses.
These among the important findings of the new report, “Captured News Media: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montenegro” by Milka Tadić Mijović and Marija Šajkaš. Mijović is a co-founder of the weekly Monitor, president of the Center for Investigative Reporting in Montenegro, and founding member of the Southeast Europe Coalition on Whistleblower Protection. Šajkaš is a US correspondent for the Serbian weekly Novi Magazin.
The report was published by the Center for International Media Assistance at the National Endowment for Democracy.
With threats to media freedom and editorial independence growing – not just in the Balkans but worldwide – the Coalition and its partners are devoting more energy to dealing with this serious problem. Undue government restrictions on the media interfere with the public’s right to information and disrupt democracy.