The Serbian government appears unwilling to follow recommendations that would guarantee a non-discriminatory allocation of public funds and government advertising across the media, the report says.
Biased subsidies to media outlets, selective government advertising contracts, and manipulation regarding licensing persists in the country, it suggests. The lack of transparency and record keeping is still a severe challenge in assessing the full extent and impact of soft censorship in Serbia.
The report registers small improvements to the media-related legal framework in Serbia, such as thenew Law on Public Information and Media which regulates financial relations between the state and media outlets.
It concludes that state spending in Serbia’s media sector requires fundamental and urgent reform to ensure that taxpayers’ money is no longer used to impose soft censorship, and instead to offer public information through free, independent and pluralistic media that facilitates informed democratic participation.
The report, prepared by Tanja Maksic in cooperation with the BIRN Serbia team, is one of a series in an ongoing project on soft censorship around the world led by the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA).
The research covers government entities at national and local level, as well as public companies (companies owned or controlled by the state). It’s an update of the January 2014 report, ‘Soft Censorship: Strangling Serbia’s Media’.
Get the report here:
Media Reform Stalled in the Slow Lane: Soft Censorship in Serbia 2015 Update.