Ever since the Internet won the race of becoming the fastest news media, Serbian radio has sought to commercialize by broadcasting mainly music and light entertainment content. Broadly, this trend can be observed globally and the modest Serbian radio market is not an exception. With a total advertising budget of $ 7 million per year, 319 licensed stations and a number of pirate radio stations broadcasting at the time of writing, radio production has little space for creativity and quality programming.
Regardless of the number of stations, only four major players reach half of the total audience in a highly concentrated radio market. Two channels of the Public Broadcasting Service (9,4% audience reach) and five commercial radio stations - Radio S and Radio S 2 (19,6%), Radio HIT FM and Radio TDI (11,9%) and Radio Play (10,3%) are among the top 10 ranked stations in the country.
In the current context of strong political influence and even control of the media, radio has lost the important role it had during the 1990's. A good example is the former radio B92, which became an iconic symbol of media independence, as well as the constant struggle for defending it during that time. Both during the 1990s and 2000s it was renowned for its news and current affairs output. After being sold to an international media group in 2010, B92 has since been transformed into a music-only radio station despite excellent ratings its former news output used to enjoy. The overlap of these two trends - global commercialization and a strong political influence at home - fueled this transition.
Both owners of Radio S – the best ranked radio station – and the national HIT FM are linked to the current political establishment. Radio S was founded by the Socialist Party of Serbia (SNS coalition partner at the time) and is owned by a senior member of this party. The Krdzic family - owners of national HIT FM and regional TDI - benefit from close connections to the ruling SNS party. After they privatized Studio B in 2014, media outlets owned by the Krdzic family and production companies linked to them received large amounts of public funding through mechanisms for project financing of public interest programs.
On the small and controlled market, radio stations largely resemble one another, broadcasting mainly popular music and light talk shows, leaving no space for alternative voices. After being fired under strange circumstances from different radio stations, several popular hosts and journalists found shelter podcasting on platforms such as soundcloud. In this sense, some in Serbia argue that ironically, the Internet, having contributed to its decline, might save radio after all.