International Information Centre for Balkan Studies

BIRODI: Media in Serbia becoming industry of populism

May 3, 2021

World Press Freedom Day, May 3, journalists in Serbia mark amid unfavorable working conditions, exposed to pressure on their independence and physical attacks, Bureau for Social Investigation (BIRODI) said on Monday.

It added that the media in the country became „an industry of populism, promotional, propaganda and revenge tool for personal power, based on nine-year-long research in line with the international recognized Memo98 methodology, BIRODI said TV channels with national frequency became the tool for media promotion, propaganda and that the retribution, while professional outlets have been marginalized.“

The organization said its study ‘Industry of Populism’ showed that every fifth citizen in Serbia was happy with the information and added people in the country were denied a Constitutional right to trustworthy, complete, and timely information about the issues of public importance.

Serbia’s ombudsman Zoran Pasalic congratulated the country’s journalists on World Press Freedom Day and said that solidarity among them was the primary condition to improve their situation and lessen all pressures and attacks on them.

„Dangerous situation in the media creates self-censorship among people since half of them believe it is not smart to speak out what they think,“ BIRODI said.

It added that „the Belgrade Pink TV took the lead in 2016 by extensively and always positively reporting on President Aleksandar Vucic and distinctively negative on the opposition. The same reporting model was applied on TV Prva and TV 92 after the ownership changed. The public broadcaster, which, together with the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM), should be the guardian of public interests, abounded their role. At the same time, journalists gave up professional ethics.“

Later on Monday, Serbia’s Ministry of Information congratulated the media on World Press Freedom Day, saying it was „essential for the journalists to be responsible, professional and to respect ethic standards and the principle of journalism,  regardless which media outlet they worked with.“

It recalled that during the 2020 elections, Vucic dominated the process by „joining the party and public roles,“ as was also noticed in a report by OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR).

„REM’s Council follows its internal rules, which are not in line with the law. The responsibility lies with the Parliament, which should approve the Council’s Statute…,“ BIRODI added.

Additionally, the organization said the self-regulatory mechanisms such as the Press Council couldn’t survive because of the lack of financing and other problems.

Milan Marinovic, Serbia’s Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, called on Monday on all authorities to respect the freedom of the media and expression and their right to access information of public importance.

The UN General Assembly established May 3 as the World Press Freedom Day to remind the states about their obligation to respect and support the freedom of expression guaranteed by article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Source:  https://rs.n1info.com/english/news/birodi-media-in-serbia-becoming-industry-of-populism/

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