The Raskrinkavanje media watchdog portal said that Serbian pro-regime tabloids received about a million Euro in budget funding published almost 1,000 false news items in 2021.
The portal said that the Informer, Srpski Telegraf, Kurir, Alo, Objektiv and Vecernje Novosti dailies received the money through competitions to produce media content and contracts with state institutions. According to government public procurement data, those tabloids received some 287,000 Euro through local and Information Ministry competitions. Raskrinkavanje said that their “manipulative and uncritical reporting on the authorities seems to guarantee their success and bring them advertising by ministries, local authorities and state-controlled companies”. The public procurement portal shows that they were awarded more than 676,000 Euro worth of advertising contracts.
The largest amounts went to Igor Zezelj’s companies – Adria Media (publisher of Kurir and the Espreso portal) and Mondo INC which received 118,500 Euro for co-financing projects. Adria Media also won tenders from the Tax Authority for advertising and Mondo INC won an advertising contract with the Serbian state TV (RTS).
Vecernje Novosti daily also received large amounts of budget funds. That newspaper published at least 114 false news items. It received an advertising contract from the Serbian Tourism Organization, State Lottery, RTS, EPS power company and several ministries.
The Informer tabloid ranked first in terms of false news and was awarded 136,000 Euro at competitions and advertising contracts. The tabloid constantly violates the Serbian Code of Journalism and should not be allowed to compete but instead it received thousands of Euro in national and local competitions with state institutions.
Alo also received thousands of Euro from the Belgrade city authorities for projects and in advertising. It published at least 188 false news items.
Srpski Telegraf also got funding from at least one ministry and earned advertising revenue while Republika received money at competitions from local authorities.
Raskrinkavanje said that those tabloids focused on domestic and regional politics in their false news items, attacking opponents of the authorities and praising President Aleksandar Vucic but also turning on ruling party officials who are thought to have gone against Vucic.