Media freedom in the balkans


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Media freedom and its enemies in the balkans

A cut out from the arctile:

"In Serbia, for example, a handful of advertising agencies close to the ruling parties control almost all the advertising money, prompting justified complaints about their role in reducing pluralism in the media.

In this country, the privatisation process is not complete, and the state remains present in several mainstream media houses, directly influencing editorial policy. Media outside Belgrade remain firmly in the grip of local political leaders.

In other countries, pressures take different forms. Macedonia’s government opts for the old tried-and-tested strategy of prosecuting media owners for tax offences - but only, of course, those with whom they have fallen out.

In Albania, the sharp polarization of the political environment - and the upcoming elections - have increased pressure on the media as the two rival political forces struggle to get the press on their side.

One pressure takes the form of the provision of “ready-made” news. Produced in parties’ headquarters, these news items or reports are simply sent to the media, where they are then often published, aired or broadcast without a challenge.

By denying reporters access to their campaign meetings, both Albania’s ruling Democrats and the opposition Socialists indirectly force the media to rely on material produced by the parties’ own press offices.

Albania ranked 88 out of 173 countries in the 2009 Reporters without Borders “Freedom of the Press Index” - a significant downgrade from 2003, when Albania ranked 34 and was the best performer in the Western Balkans.

In Croatia, media pressures are subtly different. There, according to a paper produced by the country’s journalists association in April, freedom of journalists in privately owned media groups is often limited by the business interests of their owners, as well as by advertisers.

Editors in Croatia too often act as the extended hands of political and financial centres of powers, the paper said.

It concluded that the position of the journalists today is in some ways worse than it was under the openly authoritarian regime of Franjo Tudjman in the 1990s, when there were still some independent voices.

Turning to neighbouring Bosnia, increasingly turbulent ethnic politics and a deepening economic crisis since the elections last October have all taken their toll on media freedom.

Bosnia's private print and electronic media are almost all controlled directly or indirectly by parties representing ethnic groups or by businesses affiliated to those parties.

The situation with Bosnia's public broadcasters is even more worrying. They are now coming under direct political pressure to dismantle some of successful self-regulatory bodies, like Communication regulation agency, CRA, built under the auspices of the international community.

map of media freedoms in the world, zoom into Europe, most of the balkans is partly free, and so is Italy;

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