Updated Serbian Media Ownership Monitor Database Presented

BIRN Serbia held a presentation on Wednesday of its updated database of media ownership in Serbia, highlighting the increase of state influence on the media sector, as well as the increased influence of cable operators.

The database is available online  in Serbian and English.

The Media Ownership Monitor database covers 44 of the most influential media outlets in Serbia across four sectors – TV, radio, print and online – and provides information on their ownership structure, editorial, audience share and financial data.

In comparison to 2017, when the database was launched for the first time, a key structural change is the increased influence of cable operators in the media sector, specifically through the market battle between privately-owned SBB and state-owned Telekom Srbija.

The state has secured its position in the media sector through ownership of the public broadcasting system, as well as through the daily newspapers Politika and Vecernje novosti.

“The government, through the public broadcasting system and ownership of print media and their online outlets, is the only owner active in all four media sectors. Private owners tend to be divided between sectors. Major owners of TV outlets tend to have radio outlets as well, whereas publishers of print media tend to have online editions of their outlets,” said research coordinator Tanja Maksic.

Besides changes in ownership structure, the Media Ownership Monitor research measures indicators of risks to media pluralism through excessive concentration of ownership, according to methodology developed by Reporters without Borders. The indicators are available here.

The indicators suggest the risks in Serbia are high. The top four owners have more than 50 per cent of audience share and the top eight owners across all media sectors have audience shares of 74.88 per cent.

The indicators also show that majority of TV owners (with 55 per cent of audience share), radio owners (54 per cent of share) and print media owners (70 per cent of readership share) have known political connections.

Calls Open for EU Investigative Journalism Award

Applications are now open for submission of investigative articles from the Western Balkans and Turkey for the annual EU Investigative Journalism Award.

Investigative stories published from January 1 to December 31, 2018, and related to freedom of expression, rule of law, transparency, abuse of power and fundamental rights, corruption and organised crime are welcome to apply.

The award fund in each country in 2019 (for achievements in 2018) is 10,000 EUR. The first prize will be 5,000 EUR, the second 3,000 EUR, and the third will be 2,000 EUR.

Individuals or groups of journalists are eligible to apply in all journalism forms (print, online, radio and TV) published or broadcast in the media in each country in official, minority or international languages.

Articles eligible for submission must appear in print, online, radio and TV media outlets during the 2018 calendar year.

EU Investigative Journalism Awards in the Western Balkans and Turkey aim to celebrate and promote the outstanding achievements of investigative journalists as well as improve the visibility of quality journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

The awards are a continuation of the ongoing regional EU Investigative Journalism Award in the Western Balkans and Turkey and part of the ongoing project ‘Strengthening Quality News and Independent Journalism in the Western Balkans and Turkey’.

The project partners involved all have extensive expertise in the field of media freedom and have been recognised locally and internationally as strong independent media organisations.

The jury for the EU Award comprises media experts, some of them from the project consortia. Others are drawn from the extensive network projects that the consortium members have, such as editors, members of academia and journalists with merits.

Deadline for the submission of application is July 17th, 2019.

The awards will be given annually in all six Western Balkan countries and Turkey.

For more details, contact [email protected]


To download all necessary documents in English click here

To download all necessary documents for Serbia click here

To download all necessary documents for Kosovo click here

To download all necessary documents for Bosnia and Herzegovina click here

To download all necessary documents for Montenegro click here

To download all necessary documents for Macedonia click here

To download all necessary documents for Albania click here

To download all necessary documents for Turkey click here

BIRN Serbia Editor Wins Journalism Award

Slobodan Georgiev, an editor at BIRN Serbia, and Tatjana Lazarevic, editor-in-chief of the KoSSev website from Mitrovica in Kovoso, won the Stanislav Marinkovic award on Tuesday.

The award was given by the Belgrade-based daily newspaper Danas.

The jury stressed the professionalism of the winners shown in testing times for media in the country and stated that both journalists have shown courage in their professional work and public appearances.

Slobodan Georgiev and BIRN Serbia addressed numerous important and controversial issues and broadened the boundaries of investigative journalism in Serbia, the jury said.

It added that the winners led teams of young and dedicated journalists and that the award was dedicated to them too.

The latest Freedom House report said that in Serbia, “an environment of intimidation and harassment inhibits journalists’ day-to-day work” and that President Aleksandar Vucic is following the example of Viktor Orban in Hungary in consolidating media ownership in the hands of cronies and using the outlets to smear opponents.

BIRN Serbia Wins Investigative Reporting Award

BIRN Serbia journalist Jelena Veljkovic was awarded a prize at a ceremony on Tuesday for the best investigative journalism story in Serbian online media.

The award was given by the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia, IJAS, and the US embassy in Belgrade.

Veljkovic was awarded for a series of research articles (1), (2),(3), (4), (5) about illegal construction work on Mount Golija.

The reports named Zarko Veselinovic – brother of a controversial businessman from northern Kosovo, Zvonko Veselinovic – as the man behind the construction project.

This is the sixth time BIRN Serbia has scooped the award for best investigation, and this year BIRN was also shortlisted for another story.

BIRN Serbia journalist Ana Curic was among the finalists for a series of articles on the illegal engagement of Serbian Progressive Party officials at the Medical School in Cuprija.

In the online media category, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network and the Juzne vesti website were also on the shortlist.

BIRN: Stop Targeting Slobodan Georgiev

BIRN calls on all relevant institutions, especially the Serbian Interior Ministry and the Prosecutor’s Office, to react urgently to the latest attacks on our editor Slobodan Georgiev.

A day after BIRN published photographs pointing to a connection between Andrej Vucic, the brother of the Serbian President, and Zvonko Veselinovic, a notorious businessman from Kosovo, a campaign started on social networks, attacking and threatening both Georgiev and the investigative portals BIRN, CINS and KRIK.

A video recording, available on Twitter from last night, describes Georgiev as a “foreign mercenary”, a “traitor” and as an associate of Albanian and Kosovo politicians.

The footage uses cover pages of the pro-government tabloid Informer, which refer to the “lucrative jobs” BIRN has done for foreign donors. Such slurs have been disproven in court. The same clip also targets CINS and KRIK media outlets.

The background tone of the recording is the alarm siren used during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999.

The release of the video has attracted numerous comments that contained insults and threats, some of which have been removed in the meantime.

As has happened before, instead of the dealing with the results and evidence presented by investigative media centres, raising awareness about threats to the rule of law, the fight against the corruption and the work of institutions, attention is being directed to editors and journalists who then become targets of attacks.

This spread of lies and misinformation is creating additional pressure on all journalists who want to work independently and professionally and critically report on the activities of the authorities. It is making them targets.

BIRN would remind the public and the relevant institutions that its editorial team has been almost constantly targeted by pro-regime media and ruling party bots on social networks since 2014.

We point out also that the attacks on Georgiev and BIRN have been reported to the authorities many times – without any concrete action being taken.

BIRN Serbia Journalists up for Annual Investigative Award

A series of articles by BIRN Serbia reporters, investigating illegal construction at Mt Golija and the illegal engagement of ruling party officials at the Cuprija Medical School, have been nominated for the annual Prize for Investigative Journalism.

Jelena Veljkovic and Ana Curic were nominated for the annual investigative journalism award in the category of online media.

The awards are given out by the Independent Association of Journalists in Serbia with the support of the US embassy in Belgrade.

Veljkovic has been nominated for the series of research articles on the illegal construction on Mt Golija, behind which stands Zarko Veselinovic, brother of the controversial businessman from northern Kosovo, Zvonko Veselinovic.

Curic was nominated for the series of articles on the illegal engagement of Serbian Progressive Party officials at the Medical School in Cuprija.

Apart from BIRN, in the category of online media, the Crime and Corruption Reporting Network and the portal Juzne vesti are also on the shortlist.

The awards ceremony will be held on May 7 at 6pm at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts in Belgrade.

BIRN Serbia and Partners Launch ‘Dr Spin’ Campaign

BIRN Serbia, the Slavko Curuvija Foundation and the Independent Journalism Association of Serbia (IJAS) have launched the ‘Dr Spin’ campaign on control of the media in Serbia as part of ‘Public Money for Public Interest’ project.

‘Dr Spin’ is a series of ten animated episodes that give the answer to an important question – what does every dictator need to know if he or she wants to suppress the freedom of the media?

In the first ‘lesson’, the character of Dr Spin, who was created by Ilir Gasi, explains why it’s better to have subservient rather than independent media.

New episodes will be posted online every Tuesday on Dr Spin’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

The episodes will also be broadcast on cable TV N1, as well as on local RTV Sabac and TV Forum from Prijepolje.

BIRN Serbia Holds Training for Online Journalists and Editors

BIRN Serbia organised a two-day training course on media and security in the digital environment for online journalists and editors on April 1 and 2 in Belgrade.

Participants learned how to overcome security challenges and risks, and got introduced to digital tools that can help them in their work.

During the first day, Bojan Elek from the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy presented information on the security situation in Serbia, as well as potential sources for researching security which could be helpful to journalists.

After that, Drew Sullivan and Pavla Holcova from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project shared tips and tricks on how to evaluate and overcome the security risks that journalists face.

On the second day, Andy Black, a digital specialist, gave insights into how online media can survive in the digital jungle.

He presented to journalists and editors a series of digital tools to help them listen to and improve communication with their audience, as well as to raise the visibility of their content.

Civil Society Advocates: Through Partnership Towards Democratic Development in Serbia

BIRN Serbia
The project aims to strengthen a participatory culture in Serbia and empower civil society groups to get people more involved in advocacy work.

Summary

The project is designed to address the lack of capacities in civil society organizations, CSOs, to undertake successful advocacy efforts, their lack of cooperation with public authorities at all levels, and citizens’ lack of motivation to join and trust CSO advocacy actions.

Donor: USAID

Information Sheet

Main Objective

By building skills, encouraging citizens’ engagement and improving advocacy programs, the project hopes to contribute to the strengthening of a democratic society.

Specific Objectives

The initiative is intended to support CSOs in Serbia to test, evaluate and scale their advocacy initiatives in a more strategic way.

Main Activities

Capacity Boost for Advocacy

Mapping, stakeholder and needs analysis

Advocacy training programs for CSOs

CSOs’ Advocacy Actions

Re–granting scheme

Support to local advocacy initiatives

National advocacy initiative toward participatory environment for CSOs

Web Platform for Advanced Reflection and Learning

Development and maintaining of the web Platform

Help Desk–Advocacy Clinic

Communication and Community Outreach

Local and social media outreach and branding and marking activities

Annual Advocacy Award

Target Groups

  • Local CSOs implementing advocacy initiatives;
  • Citizens

Highlights

Report on CSOs’ needs, policy environment possibilities in implementation of innovative advocacy practices;

  1. Delivered capacity building programs and raised level of knowledge and skills;
  2. At least 50 CSOs in Serbia directly involved in capacity building program;
  3. Advocated recommendations for participatory environment for CSOs in decision making;
  4. Produced set of recommendations on innovative advocacy approaches but tailored on community needs;
  5. Created web Platform for advanced reflection and learning;
  6. At least 15 case studies of successful advocacy campaign produced;
  7. 3 successful advocacy initiative awarded

Main implementer

Belgrade Open School (BOS)

Partners

Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN).

BIRN Serbia and Partners Start Civil Society Advocates Project

New project aims to strengthen a participatory culture in Serbia and empower civil society groups to get people more involved in advocacy work.

BIRN Serbia and its partners are starting a new three-year project, Civil Society Advocates: Through Partnership Towards Democratic Development in Serbia, which aims to to strengthen a participatory political culture in Serbia and credible democratic processes.

The project will be implemented by BIRN Serbia in partnership with Belgrade Open School (BOS) and the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence (BFPE). It will be supported by USAID.

The project is designed to address the lack of capacities in civil society organizations, CSOs, to undertake successful advocacy efforts, their lack of cooperation with public authorities at all levels, and citizens’ lack of motivation to join and trust CSO advocacy actions.

The initiative is intended to support CSOs in Serbia to test, evaluate and scale their advocacy initiatives in a more strategic way.

By building skills, encouraging citizens’ engagement and improving advocacy programs, the project hopes to contribute to the strengthening of a democratic society.

At the moment there is an open call for CSOs in Serbia to be part of the project and get project support from BIRN, BOS and BFP.

Find out more about this open call on the project website: https://javnozagovaranje.bos.rs/