Index 2024
98/ 180
Score : 54.48
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
91/ 180
Score : 59.16
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

Although there is quality journalism in Serbia, awarded for its investigations into crime and corruption, it is caught between rampant fake news and propaganda. Despite a solid legal framework, journalists are subjected to political pressures and crimes committed against them go unpunished.   

Media landscape

With more than 2,500 media outlets registered in the country, the market is highly fragmented. The most influential media outlets include the public broadcaster RTS, other national TV channels, the independent cable TV channel N1 and several tabloids.

Investigative journalism is gaining visibility and impact. Banned by the European Union as part of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian propaganda TV channel RT (formerly Russia Today) now has an affiliate in Belgrade, the capital, called RT Balkan. Kremlin propaganda is also broadcast by national media. 

Political context

In a political climate that became even more polarised by anti-government protests in 2023, journalists are often the targets of attacks by members of the ruling elite and amplified by certain national TV channels. Neither politicians nor government agencies, including the electronic media regulator REM, composed mainly of members appointed by the government, have been willing to remedy the situation. In addition, journalists critical of the government have restricted access to interviews with its representatives and public information.  

Legal framework

Although the constitution guarantees freedom of expression, journalists often operate in a restrictive environment and tend to censor themselves. The impact of new media regulations adopted in 2023 has yet to be evaluated. Regulations prescribed to the prosecutor’s office and the police in responding to attacks against journalists have yielded positive results in certain cases. However, the judicial system, which deals with assassinations, attacks and SLAPP proceedings targeting journalists, has yet to prove its independence and effectiveness in protecting press freedom. 

Economic context

The majority of media outlets derive their revenue from advertising and opaque government subsidies. Access to both is largely controlled by the ruling elite and subject to publication bias. Media concentration is another emerging concern, with the state-owned Telekom Srbija and privately owned SBB waging a battle over market access, programming, and users.  

Sociocultural context

In Serbia, women journalists are still the target of attacks both for their work and their gender. Far-right groups harass the media that cover migrants, the LGBTI+ community and human rights.      


While efforts have been made to improve the safety of journalists through the creation of two working groups and a media hotline, Serbian journalists are far from feeling protected. The acquittal on appeal in 2024 of those accused of murdering newspaper publisher Slavko Ćuruvija in 1999 was emblematic of the impunity of crimes committed against journalists.