City of Belgrade Grants Funds to the Media for Praising the Authorities

May 31, 2018

A competition for project co-financing of the media saw the City of Belgrade grant the majority of funds approved through last year’s competition to pro-regime media outlets, some of which openly stated in project documentation that in return for that money they will promote local government success, writes research portal Pištaljka (Whistle).

For example, pro-regime tabloid Informer received money for a project in which it stated that it is important for citizens to be informed “about evidence showing that every euro of credit from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is spent in a dedicated way” or that “Roosevelt Street is without congestion and Belgrade’s Slavija Square is glittering”.

Similar project elaborations were provided by tabloids Allo and Srpski Telegraf, which – together with Informer – received around €125,000 of the total of slightly more than €616,000 that the City granted.

Incidentally, according to research conducted by the Centre for Investigative Reporting of Serbia, Srpski Telegraf and Informer banked almost €200,000 in grants for their projects across Serbia during 2016 and 2017, despite the fact that they are the media companies that most often violate the Code of Ethics of Serbian Journalists.

In contrast, portal Pištaljka, which stated in its project documentation that it would deal with investigations of corruption in the city administration, was not allocated funds in Belgrade. According to this portal, the commission tasked with deciding on the distribution of money gave the explanation that this project was not in the interest of the public.