Media freedoms in Serbia are rapidly falling under the current rule of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), according to the latest report on censorship in the Balkans by the international organisation from Brussels ‘Balkan Initiative for Media Freedom’, BFMI, has reported on Friday.
The report titled ‘The Invisible Hand of Censorship in the Balkans’ said there was growing evidence of Serbia’s state bodies strategically strengthening control over the media, citing the example of the state-owned Telecom Serbia, which accumulated media in its ownership.
The BFMI recalled the European Commission 2020 report, which said Serbia had not progressed in freedom of expression over the years.
The Initiative added that it was mostly sponsored by the Government led by President Aleksandar Vucic’s SNS.
“In Serbia, the Government has promised media reforms in response to EU concerns about the deterioration of the media environment, but there are no signs of implementation. Many media owners and operators have close ties to the ruling SNS party, and the Government is increasingly using state-owned entities such as Telekom Srbija to manipulate the commercial market, the BFMI said.
It added the report “ focuses on three Balkan states: Bulgaria, Serbia and North Macedonia… They have all experienced near-constant political interference in their respective media markets in recent years. As a result, all three countries suffer from a lack of media freedom, demonstrated by low scores in relevant global indexes and the continued dominance of mainstream media by pro-government voices, while independent media outlets remain under pressure.”