Media situation in Serbia
News agency Tanjug, Radio Yugoslavia and the newspaper Panorama will receive 368 million dinars from the next year's national budget, while 81 million dinars will be allocated for public contests for programs and projects in the field of information, it was said yesterday at the session of the Committee for Culture and Information of the National Parliament of Serbia.
(Pregled, NUNS, UNS, 14.11.2012)
The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), the Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS), the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS) and the Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) have criticized the cable provider SBB for shutting down the programme of TV Avala while the station was still broadcasting and then giving its position within the cable distribution system to the channel TV Pink 2, in violation of SBB's own terms of service.
(Beta, Danas, Informer, Politika, Pregled, 07.11.2012)
SBB says that it decided to begin broadcasting TV Pink 2 – instead of simply showing a blank screen after the closure of TV Avala – because its programme was most similar to the programme of the closed-down station. Employees of TV Avala have not been given any explanation about the new situation and they have called on the authorities to clarify their status.
(Beta, Pregled, Danas, 24 sata, Dnevnik, Politika, 08.11.2012)
The work group of the Ministry of Justice, which is working on harmonization of the Criminal Code of Serbia with international standards, is considering the possibility of decriminalization of the criminal offenses of libel and insult, despite the fact that it had previously held a unanimous opinion that both offenses should not be decriminalized. It seems that the group has changed its position thanks to the pressure exerted by media professionals and international journalistic associations, reports the daily newspaper Danas.
Withdrawal of the state from the media is an important precondition for democratization of the society. Serbia is not big enough to have more than 30 regional media companies, says Paula Thiede, the acting head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
(Danas, NUNS, 14.11.2012)
The European Union will form opinion about the new government in Serbia depending on the progress of the dialog with Pristina, successful agreement with the International Monetary Fund, and achievement of full freedom of the media and independent institutions, well-informed sources from Brussels and Belgrade told the daily newspaper Danas. The sources indicate that the date of beginning of negotiations with the EU will depend precisely on these three priorities.
(Danas, UNS, NUNS, 13.11.2012)
The Media Coalition has condemned the decision by the City Council of Nis to pay 2.5 million dinars to the newspaper Narodne Novine without holding without holding any public contest or any specified criteria, on the very same day when TV5 was closed down.“This is another disappointing example of the non-transparent and arbitrary manner in which the state and its local self-governments use the taxpayers' money to influence the media market to their own political advantage and to such a degree that they practically decide on the survival of individual media outlets”, says the press statement issued by the Media Coalition.
(Juzne vesti, 08.11.2012)
Opinions about the current media situation in Serbia
We already know from experience that the manufacturing of scandals in Serbia and their distribution via the media has often been motivated by the desire to move the focus of the public away from inconvenient issues towards less relevant topics. The media, and especially the tabloid newspapers, often act as willing accomplices in conflicts between powerful groups in the society, says Jovanka Matic. In any case, it seems that this large a production of affairs and spins has survived because there still exists market demand for such content. The public needs to become more media-literate so that it could receive and valuate the available content in a more critical manner.
The Serbian media scene is in a state of controlled chaos – financially weak media is being created and then easily controlled, says the president of the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), Vukasin Obradovic. “The main issue is not whether tycoon should be allowed to own media outlets, but why everything is being done in a non-transparent manner. The biggest problem is that the state has the central role in this”, says Obradovic. He is of the opinion that financing of the media is a completely separate issue from ownership over the media. “Only when we find out how the media is financed will we be able to discuss the issue of media ownership and who truly affects the editorial policy of the media”, says Obradovic. The president of NUNS points out that the same process has been evident in Serbia since 2000 – that the media tend to fight among themselves in order to win the favor of government, which is the case with Mr. Vucic today. Obradovic says that the tabloids are run as political projects, not as media companies: “The power of the tabloid newspapers is caused by the lack of influence of the serious media, which is rarely discussed by the professional community”.
(TV B92, NUNS, 15.11.2012)
We are not witnessing any kind of a war among tabloids for their position in the market, but the pressure from the government in the company Ringier aimed at removal of the editor of the daily newspaper Blic from his position, says the president of the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), Vukasin Obradovic.
(MONDO, NUNS, 15.11.2012)
Media expert Branislava Kostic accused today the former management of Radio-Television Belgrade and Radio-Television Novi Sad of being accomplices in the crimes committed in Vukovar in 1991 by conducting necessary propaganda. During a public discussion held at the Assembily of the Province of Vojvodina, Ms. Kostic expressed her regret that no one of the warmongers from these and similar media outlets had not been held criminally accountable.
(Autonomija, NDNV, 15.11.2012)
A deputy from the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in the City Assembly of Kraljevo, Zoran Vukodinovic, complained yesterday that 140,000 citizens of Kraljevo who heat their homes using woods and coal cannot collect enough old paper from newspapers to use it in their stoves because of reduced circulation of daily newspapers in Serbia.
(BETA, Blic - Srbija, 20.11.2012)
Anita Erker says in a newspaper article: “Tabloidization is not an exclusive characteristic of the domestic media scene, but a ubiquitous phenomenon worldwide. However, politics as the main topic of the tabloid content is typical for Serbia. While tabloids in other countries focus on show business celebrities, their place in Serbia is taken by politicians. Trivialization of politics, reporting about issues without any extensive research, and reporting of unverified news and unnamed sources has been destroying high-quality journalism and the cultural basis of the society. Serious press often offers its own take on the issues initiated by tabloids, in an attempt to present them within a wider social context, analyze them and forecast future events. However, due to technological advancement and changes in readers' habits, people spend less time reading such articles and usually consume only tabloid interpretations. Disappearance of critical thinking and reference press is a direct consequence of this.”
Journalist Djoko Kesic says in a newspaper article: “Today, newspapers are often run by shady characters without skills, education and clear intentions. They are happy to be someone's servants. If they knew how to write three complex sentences without grammar and spelling errors, they would probably seek an academic title. Nothing happens by chance. If the newspapers and journalists were doing their job, Serbia would a better and happier place today.”
(Press, NUNS, UNS, 15.11.2012)
The state and the media
The prime minister of Serbia, Ivica Dacic, pointed out during his meeting with the president of the European Federation of Journalists, Arne König, that Serbia was committed to advancement of the freedom of the media and definition of a clear media strategy.
(Danas, UNS, NUNS, 09.11.2012)
Media professionals have criticized the unresolved status of TV Arena Sport – which does not have a proper broadcasting license, but at the same time has not been banned from broadcasting its programme – and its indirect overtaking by the state. Telecom Serbia is the new owner of the station. The president of the Executive Board of the Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS), Petar Jeremic, said that the transaction was contrary to the Government's commitment that it would not be a media owner. The president of the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), Vukasin Obradovic, said that he had heard an explanation that the transaction did not constitute a violation of this commitment because it involved a cable channel. “I am not convinced that cable television stations should be viewed separately from the terrestrial stations. The state should not own media outlets, whether directly or indirectly”, said Obradovic. The Republic Broadcasting Agency has not decided in this case because it is waiting for an “integrated opinion” from the Ministry of Culture and Information and the Ministry of Finance.
Multicom Group and Direct Media, owned by Dragan Djilas, have been granted by Radio-Television Serbia (RTS) an exclusive right to sell advertising minutes in the programme of RTS, but the business deal is well-guarded secret, reports the daily newspaper Kurir. We have asked the general director of RTS, Aleksandar Tijanic, on three occasions to show us the signed contracts so that we could see the terms of the whole deal and what has the RTS got from this, but they have not done that. The commissioner for information of public importance, Rodoljub Sabic, punished them several times but without any effect, says the source of Kurir.
(Kurir, 14.11.2012, Kurir, UNS, 15.11.2012)
The general director of Radio-Television Serbia (RTS), Aleksandar Tijanic, told his closest associates that he did not have a slightest intention to show the business documentation of RTS to anyone, not even the police, reports the daily newspaper Kurir.
(Kurir, 17.11.2012, Kurir, 19.11.2012)
When the authorities ask for information, it has to be delivered, said the prime minister Ivica Dacic to the director of RTS, reports the daily newspaper Kurir.
The Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) will organize a public discussion, “The Petakov Case – Imprisonment for an Insult”. An activist and antifascist, Zoran Petakov, has been held under house arrest for more than 40 days for the criminal offense of insult. He was convicted because of the lawsuit filed by the Bishop of Backa of the Serbian Orthodox Church Irinej (Mirko Bulovic) in 2005.
Public service broadcasters
Some of the villages in mountainous regions have been suffering from a problem ignored by Radio-Television Serbia (RTS). Villagers are forced to pay the TV fee despite the fact that they are located outside the coverage of the terrestrial TV signal. RTS has threatened the non-payers with forced collection of debt via authorized enforcers, reports the daily newspaper Novosti.
(Vecernje novosti, Blic, 07.11.2012)
The Trade Union “Independence” (“Nezavisnost”) has issued a press statement demanding that the management of Radio-Television Serbia (RTS) pay them late salaries and travel expenses to and from work as well as sign a Collective Contract with its employees. The Trade Union says that the employees will stop working on Wednesday and organize a protest in front of the RTS building. Employees of Radio Belgrade will join their television colleagues at the same place today.
(Politika, Beta, UNS, Danas, Kurir, 10.11.2012,Beta, Danas, UNS, NUNS, MONDO, 14.11.2012,Kurir, Informer, Politika, NUNS, UNS, Press, 15.11.2012)
The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS) says that the warning strike organized by RTS employees is justified and legitimate.
(NUNS, 13.11.2012, Kurir, 14.11.2012)
The Board of Directors of Radio-Television Serbia (RTS) demands that the trade union cancel the warning strike and prepare for negotiations on the collective contract.
(Fonet, Mondo, UNS, NUNS, 14.11.2012)
The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS) is shocked because of the manner in which the people's deputy in the national parliament, Sinisa Kovacevic, attacked journalists while speaking in the parliament. NUNS calls on the authorities to respond, especially the president of the National Parliament, so that the parliament and the citizens of Serbia are protected from this and similar attacks by deputies.
(NUNS, 14.11.2012, Beta, Danas, UNS, Blic, 15.11.2012)
It is shameful for a screenwriter and director to say such things in the national parliament, told Aleksandar Tijanic to the daily newspaper Alo!.
(Alo!, NUNS, UNS, 15.11.2012)
The parliamentary deputy from the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP), Zoran Ostojic, demanded yesterday that the president of the Committee on Culture and Information, Vesna Marjanovic, immediately organize a session of the Committee to discuss, in his words, “the primitive attack of the deputy from the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Sinisa Kovacevic, on the RTS journalists”.
(Politika, UNS, 15.11.2012)
TV hosts of Radio-Television Serbia (RTS) sent yesterday an open letter to the deputy from the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), Sinisa Kovacevic, saying that his words were beyond rude. The letter was signed by “blonds from RTS”: Natasa Miljkovic, Olja Kovacevic and Olivera Jovicevic.
(Blic, Kurir, Politika, Press,UNS, RTV, NUNS, RTS, 14.11.2012, Blic, UNS, 15.11.2012)
I have authorized the legal office Tomanovic to modify and immediately file a lawsuit against the persons who are responsible for the misdeeds committed by the daily Kurir, says a press statement issued by Aleksandar Tijanic.
(Alo!, Blic, Politika, 17.11.2012)
The Board of the General Director of RTS said yesterday that the deputy in the National Parliament of Serbia, Sinisa Kovacevic, had told dozens of untruths about the RTS in his parliamentary speeches, the letter and other public appearances. Among other things, the Board denies Kovacevic's claims that the RTS sold all the advertising minutes in its programme to companies owned by Dragan Djilas and Srdjan Saper. The Board points out that the law forbids monopolistic sale of the advertising space to any agency.
(Blic, Politika, 17.11.2012)
Ivana Vujanov says in her article: “It seems that the Public Service Broadcaster has went completely off-course in its attempt to find a balance between satisfying political demands and calming down the heated debate inside the broadcaster. The economic crisis that began after only a couple of years of a seeming relief has hit the media hard. At the same time, many workers have viewed the RTS as the last sanctuary for those trying to preserve their jobs – similarly to all other companies financed from the national budget.”
(Dnevnik – Special Supplement, 17.11.2012)
Threats, attacks and legal processes against journalists; media-related trials
The President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic organized in Belgrade a formal reception for the female Fed Cup representation of Serbia. He congratulated the best Serbian female tennis players the winning of the second place at the competition. The tennis players did not apologize for their disgraceful press conference in Prague, when they blamed journalists for their defeat, reports the daily newspaper Press.
The Court of Appeals in Belgrade rejected as unfounded the lawsuit filed by Aleksandar Tijanic, the director of Radio-Television Serbia (RTS), who demanded that the daily newspaper Kurir pay him 300,000 dinars. The Court told Tijanic that, being a public official, he has to accept strong criticism. The decision holds a historical significance for the freedom of the media in Serbia because it is the beginning of a court practice according to which politicians and public personalities will have to face justified criticism, no matter how harsh, says the newspaper.
(Kurir, NUNS, 09.11.2012, Kurir, 10.11.201)
Criminal punishment of journalists is contrary to international recommendations and standards. Serbia has to prove that it is prepared to join today's trends and one of such steps would be the immediate revoking of criminal charges against journalists, says Oliver Vujovic, the general secretary of the South East European Media Organization (SEEMO). “I hope that the Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and his deputy, Aleksandar Vucic, as well as the President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolic, intend to launch a strong initiative aimed at revoking criminal penalties against journalists”, says Vujovic.
(Danas, NUNS, UNS, 12.11.2012)
“A month ago, police inspector Nenad Jovanovic participated in the beating of my family in the Hotel Przar. After that, unidentified individuals planted a bomb in front of the house of my parents, but the police campaign against me has not come to an end. In a most recent development, criminal charges were brought against my sister Bojana because of alleged endangering of security”, says Tanja Jankovic, journalist with TV B92, who believes that the attacks against her and her family are connected with her work with the television programme “The Insider”.
(Kurir, 12.11.2012,UNS, 13.11.2012)
The director and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Nas Glas, Goro Redzic, who was arrested under the charge of taking bribes, claims that his arrest is an attempt at his demonization in the media and elimination from the political scene, as well as a revenge for disobedience towards the former owner of the newspaper, Milan Lukic, who is the leader of the Coalition for Better Smederevo. Redzic was one of the members of the Coalition. Employees of Nas Glas have supported their director, claiming that no bribe had been taken and that they know for a fact that the money was collected as a payment for the rent of business premises. They publicly demanded that Redzic be released from custody, where he has spent 45 days.
(Vecernje Novosti - Srbija, 14.11.2012)
The third-instance Council of the Court of Appeals in Kragujevac has decided that a journalist from Paracin, Milijana Stojanovic, did not commit libel against the prosecutor Aleksandar Petrovic in her article entitled “Mother Tries to Hang Child”.
Only two years ago, Aleksandar Rodic, the director of the tabloid newspaper Kurir – who has been calling for a transparent market and free competition between the media based on professional skills and knowledge instead of “behind-the-scenes deals with politicians” - has avoided arrest, a years-long prison sentence and confiscation of property worth tens of millions of euros precisely thanks to his deals with politicians, reports the daily Blic.
(Blic, 15.11.2012, Blic, 17.11.2012)
Journalist with TV B92, Jugoslav Cosic, accused yesterday the editor-in-chief of Informer, Dragan J. Vucicevic, of coordinating media attacks on Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic with Dusan Spasojevic Siptar immediately before Djindjic's assassination. The editorial team of Informer asked yesterday the Republic Prosecutor's Office, the Special Prosecutor's Office for Organized Crime, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Serbia, and the Police Directorate to publicly state whether they have any information about contacts between Vucicevic and the head of the criminal “Zemun Clan”. As of printing of this issue, the Republic and Special Prosecutor's Office have sent us official notifications saying that they do not possess any such information. The legal team of Informer will file lawsuits demanding millions in damages against the daily newspaper Blic and Jugoslav Cosic.
Jugoslav Cosic, a journalist with TV B92, will be questioned by the police this week, it was confirmed to us yesterday by sources from the Police Directorate. We were told that the police were investigating the charges filed by the daily Informer.
Rights of journalists
The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS) and the Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) have warned that the judicial system of Serbia is jeopardizing the rights of journalists and all employees even in cases when it adopts verdicts in their favor. The professional associations bring up the case of a journalist from Novi Sad, Nikola Travica, who has won a civil case against his employer in relation to unpaid salaries, but at the same time was forced to pay high court expenses in the amount of 53,000 dinars.
It is not true that newspaper Novi Gradjanski List owes ten and half salaries, claims Srdjan Vucurevic. In his words, Travica is trying to present himself as the victim in this case.
(Vecernje Novosti – Vojvodina, 07.11.2012)
The Media Strategy
The Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), the Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS), the Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) and Local Press have issued a joint press statement demanding immediate implementation of the segment of the Media Strategy that relates to project-based financing of the media and control over the state assistance to the media. The Coalition demands that the Government of Serbia immediately begin implementation of the Strategy instead of redefining it.
(Beta, NDNV, NUNS, UNS, 09.11.2012)
The minority media
The vice president of the Government of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and the secretary for culture and public information of the Province, Slavisa Grujic, met with representatives of councils of national minorities in Vojvodina. The meeting was dedicated to improvement of the position of the media in minority languages.
(Danas, UNS, NUNS, 13.11.2012)
Media News Bulletin is a short account of media reports on the situation in the media. It has been created with the aim to register the information about the media published in the previous 14 days in Serbia, shortened to reflect the basic message of media reports and grouped in thematic subsections. The editors convey the news without changing the essential meaning of media reports on the media. For the readers interested in the complete published article, its source and date of publishing are given. Sections
|This news bulletin is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and IREX. The contents of this bulletin are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, IREX or the United States Government.|