EC and RWB: media freedom situation in Serbia worrying; IREX: the worst year in memory

May 3, 2018

Serbia has not made progress in the area of freedom of expression over the past 18 months, according to the recently published European Commission’s Report on the EU integration progress of the Western Balkan countries. At the same time, organisation Reporters Without Borders states that Serbia has regressed on freedom of the media, while the report of IREX gave Serbia the lowest rating in its media sustainability index since measuring has started in 2000.

The EC report states that threats, intimidation and violence against journalists are still occurring. The Commission urged the Serbian authorities to condemn hate speech and attacks against journalists.

The annual report of Reporters Without Borders states that Serbia has fallen ten places compared to last year in the rankings of the media freedom index and is now ranked 76th.

Serbia has thus found itself among the five countries in the world that recorded the largest regression. Reporters Without Borders insist that, under President Vučić, Serbia has become a country in which “it is not safe to be a journalist”, which is clear from “numerous attacks on journalists that have not been investigated, solved or sanctioned”, as well as from “campaigns of pro-regime tabloids against investigative journalists”.

Furthermore, in its Media Sustainability Index, IREX Serbia records the lowest results since measuring has started in 2000, with the assessment that the situation is worsening in the areas of freedom of speech, professional journalism, plurality of news sources, business management and supporting institutions.

It is also stated that media content has been polarised the most last year, with editorial pressures rising, along with the number of fake news stories, that economic conditions are bad and that, thus, 2017 was the worst year in recent memory for Serbia’s media.