Elections in Serbia: RSF urges political parties to commit to adopting reforms for media independence and pluralism

Despite recent reforms, the media space in Serbia remains a jungle where the general interest is defeated by political interests. The parliamentary elections on 17 December provide a new opportunity to implement measures guaranteeing citizens' right to reliable information.

A few days after the adoption of two media laws, President Aleksandar Vucic announced early parliamentary elections to be held on 17 December. Despite the recommendations of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), issued as early as the previous election in 2022, to establish a regulatory framework that promotes media independence, progress remains minimal.

RSF condemns the lack of media independence and pluralism in the country. Indeed, the organisation notes an unfair media treatment of political parties, as corroborated by the report of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Serbian think tank Crta. RSF also denounces the allocation of national frequencies solely to pro-government media as well as the proliferation, in the media landscape, of Russian propaganda and content promoting hate and violence, including against journalists.

While the Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (REM) announced on 1st December an investigation into the television channel TV Pink – which is regularly accused of broadcasting Russian propaganda as well as partiality towards the ruling party – the lack of in-depth reform raises fears that this will not lead to any sanctions.

In view of this alarming situation, RSF once again calls for ensuring the impartiality and effectiveness of the REM, for equitably allocating public funds to the media, and for granting national frequencies transparently and independently of any political influence.

"Serbian informational space remains a jungle where reliable information and the general interest are defeated by the brutality of political interests. One way to ensure citizens' right to reliable information is to guarantee the independence and pluralism of the media by new rules. We call on the political parties to commit to putting measures in place, in particular through a thorough reform of the REM, in line with RSF's specific recommendations.

Pavol Szalai
Head of RSF's EU-Balkans desk

Serbia is ranked 91st out of 180 countries in RSF's 2023 World Press Freedom Index.

91/ 180
Score : 59.16
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