Europe - Central Asia
Index 2024
81/ 180
Score : 58.85
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
64/ 180
Score : 65.43
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Press freedom and the quality of journalism vary widely across the country. The Serbian majority has recriminalised defamation, which could pose a threat to journalism, already obstructed at the national level by political and economic pressures and by the fact that reporters do not feel safe.

Media landscape

The country has a very fragmented media landscape with about 40 TV channels, 150 radio stations, several daily newspapers and news agencies, almost 200 magazines and about 600 news websites. Paradoxically, such a large number of media does not imply true pluralism of information and opinion. Several TV channels provide quality reporting, while websites are the main source of investigative journalism.

Political context

While the overall political environment is unfavourable to press freedom, there are significant differences across the country due to the different political structures of its entities. The environment for the media is better in Sarajevo, the capital, and in the western entity known as the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina than in the Republika Srpska (RS), with a Serbian majority. Politicians often attack journalists and pressure media regulators and the public media to the point that the national broadcaster RTRS is under political control and the Republika Srpska’s BHRT is on the brink of financial collapse.

Legal framework

Although the legal framework for the media is largely in line with international standards, the policymaking process has stalled in recent years. Worse still, the Republika Srpska has recriminalised defamation, which is liable to encourage more self-censorship. Access to information is in principle open to all journalists, without discrimination. Legal provisions on the protection of sources and codes of ethics are in place.

Economic context

The economic environment is difficult for journalists due to the small size of the market and lack of sustainable funding. The Bosnian media also suffer from divisions along ethnic lines and competition from media outlets of neighbouring countries that belong to the same language area. Due to the difficult economic situation, and dependence on political and economic sectors, a large number of media outlets avoid critical journalism.

Sociocultural context

With its past marked by war, Bosnian society suffers from many divisions, and remains torn between those who promote reconciliation and cooperation, and those who favour conflict and divisions. Questions of ethnic and religious identity overshadow issues of individual freedoms, including freedom of the press. As is the case in society as a whole, the situation is more difficult for  women in the media. 


Journalists are often the targets of verbal threats and attacks, and sometimes of physical assault as well. The majority of journalists do not feel sufficiently protected while doing their job and do not trust the police or the judicial system. Various initiatives have been taken to improve the safety of journalists, including through legislation and investigations carried out by the prosecutor's office.