Indicators of Risks to Media Pluralism

Media Audience Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of audience and readership across media platforms based on audience share. Concentration is measured by using the Top4 concentration measure, which is most common in economical calculations. 

Why? 

This indicator assesses a HIGH risk to media pluralism in Serbia, due to high concentrations in TV, Print and Radio markets.

TV market in Serbia is highly concentrated as the 4 major owners represent the audience share of 62.35%. The market leader is the Public Broadcasting Service with its three TV stations it reaches 23.17% of the audience. Pink Media Group owned by Zeljko Mitrovic has an audience share of 16.44% with three of its Pink TV stations, Pink 1,2 and 3. Antenna Group, owned by Kyriakou family in Greece, has two major TV stations in Serbia - B92 and Prva TV, through which it reaches 15.27% of the audience. The audience share of Happy TV amounts to 7.47%. The company is associated with Predrag Rankovic, also known as Peconi.

Radio market in Serbia is highly concentrated with the four major owners reaching 51.2% of the audience. S Media Team (19.6%) Maxim Media Group (11.9%), PBS (9.4%) and Antenna Group Serbia (10.3%) are the four major owners. 

Print market in Serbia is highly concentrated as four major owners represent an audience share of 63.27%. The market leader is the Swiss-German corporation Ringier Axel Springer Media which has an audience of 24.48% with three of its newspaper (Blic, Alo!, Nin). Whereas Adria Media Group with Kurir and Newsweek have an audience share of 13.8%. Insajder Tim (Informer) and Kompanija Novosti (Vecernje Novosti) have audiences shares of 12.74% and 11.25% respectively. 

LowMediumHigh
Audience Concentration in Television

Percentage: 62.35%

  • Public Broadcasting Service: 23.17% (RTS1: 19.47%, RTS2: 2.95%, RTV1: 0.75)
  • Pink Media Group: 16.44% (Pink TV: 14.91%, Pink2: 1.08%, Pink 3: 0.45%)
  • Antenna Group Serbia: 15.27% (B92: 5.44%, Prva TV: 9.83%) 
  • Happy TV: 7.47% (Happy TV: 7.47%)
 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience Concentration in Radio

Percentage: 51.2%

  • S Media Team: 19.6% (Radio S: 14.5%, Radio S2: 5.1%)
  • Maxim Media Group: 11.9% (Hit FM: 8.4%, TDI Radio: 3.5%)
  • PBS: 9.4 % (Radio Belgrade 1: 6.2%, Belgrade 202: 3.2%)
  • Antenna Group Serbia: 10.3% (Play Radio: 10.3%)
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%. 
Audience Concentration in Print

Percentage: 63.27%

  •     Ringier Axel Springer Media: 25.48% (Blic: 13.8%, Alo!: 7.86%, Nin: 3.82%)
  •     Adria Media Group: 13.8% (Kurir: 12.74%, Newsweek: 1.06%)
  •     Insajder Tim: 12.74 (Informer: 12.74%)
  •     Kompanija Novosti: 11.25% (Vecernje Novosti: 11.25%)
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have an audience share above 50%.

 Metadata

Audience measurement for print media was provided by IPSOS for the purposes of indicator calculation, the audience shares were weighted to assume that 47.1% of the readership being the universe, i.e. 100%. Online audience measurements are available in number of visits and not in audience shares therefore it was not possible to measure concentration of the online market in Serbia. In addition, Gemius only measures access to online portals through desktop computers and excludes mobile access. 4 major owners are determined by the market share, but since there is no market data in Serbia the 4 major owners were determined by their audience shares.

Radio Audience Share, IPSOS 2016-2017 XLS | 53 KB
TV Audience Share, Nielsen 2016-2017 XLS | 38 KB
Print Audience Share, IPSOS 2017 XLS | 97 KB
Online Audience Measurement, Gemius March 2017 XLSX | 16.05 KB

Media Market Concentration

Result: No data

This indicator aims to assess the horizontal concentration in the media market based on market share which illustrates the economic power of companies/ groups. Concentration is measured for each media sector by adding the market shares of the major owners in the sector.

Result: Unknown

Although Serbian Business Register’s Agency provides financial information on revenues, no financial information is available on the media market as a whole therefore market share for companies studied is unknown. Hence media ownership concentration based on market share could not be computed. In accordance with the MOM methodology if the country presents data on audience, but not on revenues/market share: the market share data is excluded from the analysis, i.e., the findings are based on the audience data alone and the revenue data are considered optional.

 

LOWMEDIUMHIGH
Media Market Concentration in Television (horizontal)
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Radio (horizontal) 
Percentage: not assessed    
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Print (horizontal) 
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 
Media Market Concentration in Internet Content Providers
Percentage: not assessed 
If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share below 25%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share between 25% and 49%. If within one country the major 4 owners (Top4) have a market share above 50%. 

 

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Media Ownership Concentration

Result: Medium

This indicator assesses the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration in the of ownership and/or control in the different media.

Score: 14 out of 20 (70%)

Result: Regulatory safeguards to prevent media ownership concentration are in place, yet the implementation of those safeguards remains problematic. This indicator assesses a MEDIUM risk.  

Why?

All media in Serbia are regulated by The Law on Public Information and Media. The difference is in authorities which are responsible to control their activities and in the register where their ownership data is stored. Radio and TV are electronic media, and they are under specific regime of Lex specialis - The law on electronic media. REM – is the responsible regulatory authority for Television and Radio broadcasting.

Print and Online are under control of the Ministry of Culture and Information and they are obliged to inform Media register in the Serbian business registers agency about every change in the ownership structure.

There is no law that specifically regulates internet portals as a separate form of media, but general legal provisions of the Law on Public Information and Media apply to the internet media.

LPIM regulates horizontal media concentration by restricting ownership and managerial rights, applying the criteria of circulation for print media (50%) and ratings for electronic media (35%). The Republic of Serbia also has a Law on Protection of Competition (LPC), which regulates this field in detail and applies to all natural and legal persons in the Republic of Serbia, including media owners.

The Ministry and the Regulatory Authority are in charge of overseeing concentration and monopoly in the media. However, looking at the structure of the media in Serbia, the threshold is set so high that it is practically impossible to exceed the current limit of 35% of total combined ratings, that is, 50% of total annual circulation, so this form of monitoring is mostly of little importance, without any concrete effects and presents the biggest weakness of the current media legislation in Serbia.

Table summarizes TV/Radio - Max. score: 4 per sector.    DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration in the media and/or control in the TELEVISION/RADIO sector.   1
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.      1
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

- Refusal of additional licences; 

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture.

 0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentrationin the media and/or control in the television media.     0.5
Total:3
PRINT - Max. score: 4   DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration in the media and/or control in the TELEVISION/RADIO sector.   1
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.      1
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

- Refusal of additional licences; 

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture. 

 0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentrationin the media and/or control in the television media.     0.5
Total:3

 

 

Internet - Max. score: 4    DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds or limits, based on objective criteria (e.g. number of licenses, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue) to prevent a high level of horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in this sector?    This question aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific) against a high horizontal concentration in the media and/or control in the TELEVISION/RADIO sector.   0.5
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.      0.5
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

- Refusal of additional licences; 

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 

- Obligation to give up licences/activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture.

 0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentrationin the media and/or control in the television media.     0.5
Total:2.00
Media Mergers  DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Can a high level of horizontal of ownership and/or control in the media sector be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector? 

This question aims to access the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector specific and/or competition law) against a high horizontal concentration of ownership and/or control in the media sector through merging operations: 

- By containing media-specific provision that impose stricter thresholds than in other sectors;

- The mandatory intervention of a media authority in merger and acquisition cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- The possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the communication authority for reasons of media pluralism (or public interest in general), that - even tough they do not contain media-specific provisions - do not exclude the media sector from their scope of application. 

   1
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with the thresholds in the print sector and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)?    This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system.      1
Does the law grant this body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

The variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as: 

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition; 

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming; 

- Obligation to give up licences / activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture.

 0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    This indicator aims to assess the effective implementation of sector-specific remedies against a high horizontal concentrationin the media and/or control in the television media.     0.5
Total:3

 

 

Law on Protection of Competition (Official Gazette 51/2009 and 95/2013)

Cross-Media Ownership Concentration

Result: High Risk

This indicator aims to assess the concentration of ownership in the different sectors – television, newspapers, audio, and any other relevant media – of the media industry (cross-media). Concentration is measured by using the Top8 concentration measure. 

Why? 

Top 8 owners across all media sectors have an audience share of 70.66% which according to MOM methodology is high concentration. However, in Serbia cross-media ownership remains separate between audio-visual and print sector. There is no single media company active in all four media sectors. Major owners of TV outlets tend to have radio outlets as well, whereas publishers of print media tend to have online editions of their outlets. Television remains the most consumed media, radio and print are in decline whereas internet is growing in importance virtually all across the globe and Serbia is no exception. 5 out of top 8 owners are active in audio-visual sector, i.e. Radio and / or Television: Public Broadcasting Service (19.83%), Pink Media Group (12.25%), Antenna Group Serbia (14.6%), S Media Team (7.21%) and Maxim Media Group (4.8%). The remaining three are publishers of print media: Ringier Axel Springer Media (5.87%), Adria Media Group (3.17%) and Insajder Tim (2.93%).
Audience shares are weighted against media consumption data provided by Ipsos for the period of May 2017. Average daily reach for TV is 70.7%, Print -  23%, Radio – 36.8% and Online – 53.3%. Since no audience shares were available for internet (only number of visits) companies’ online outlets were not measured in.  

LOWMEDIUMHIGH


Percentage: 70.66%

Public Broadcasting Service: TV: RTS1, RTS2, RTV = 23.17% Radio: Belgrade 1, Belgrade 202 = 9.4%Online: rts.rs
Sum weighted: TV 16.38 % + Radio 3.45 % = 19.83%
Pink Media Group: TV: Pink, Pink 2, Pink 3 = 16.44% Radio: Radio Pink = 1.7%
Sum weighted: TV: 11.62 + 0.63 = 12.25 %
Antenna Group Serbia: TV: B92, Prva TV = 15.27%; Radio: Play Radio = 10.3%; Online: b92.net
Sum weighted: TV 10.8 + Radio 3.8 = 14.6%
S Media Team: Radio: Radio S1, Radio S2 = 19.6%
Sum weighted: 7.21%
Maxim Media Group: TV: Studio B = 0.60%; Radio: TDI, Hit FM = 11.9%
Sum weighted: TV 0.42% + 4.38 = 4.8%
Ringier Axel Springer Media: Print: Blic, Alo!, Nin = 25.48%; Online: blic.rs, alo.rs
Sum weighted: 5.87%
Adria Media Group: Print: Kurir, Newsweek = 13.8%; Online: kurir.rs, espresso.rs
Sum weighted: 3.17%
Insajder Tim: Print: Informer = 12.74%; Online: Informer.rs
Sum weighted: 2.93%

If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share below 50% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have an audience share between 50% and 69% across the different media sectors. If within one country the major 8 owners (Top8) have a market share above 70% across the different media sectors. 

 

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Cross-Media Ownership Concentration

Result: Medium

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership between media types (press, TV, radio, internet). Given the diversity of thresholds or limits that exist among different countries with regard to ownership and/or control, 'high' should be assessed according to the standards of your country and in the light of the thresholds or limits imposed by domestic laws.

Why? 

Score: 5 out of 8 (62.5%)

Vertical concentration is regulated in a similar way as horizontal concentration, when sanctioning powers, threshold and authorities are concerned. As the concentration thresholds are set too high the same problem is observed here, that it is practically impossible to reach concentration. Generally vertical concentration by one company is prohibited but the law allows ownership in another type of media or in distribution through an affiliated legal person. So today in Serbia one can observe a situation where the biggest internet provider (SBB) is also an owner of a TV station (N1 owned by United Group and EBRD), not directly but via its mother company. The regulation for concentration prevention exists but is not effectively enforced. Therefore, the risk to Cross-Media Ownership Concentration is rated as Medium.  

CROSS-MEDIA OWNERSHIPDescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does the media legislation contain specific thresholds, based on objective criteria, such as number of licences, audience share, circulation, distribution of share capital or voting rights, turnover/revenue, to prevent a high degree of cross-ownership between the different media?    This indicator aims to assess the existence of regulatory safeguards (sector-specific and/or competition law) against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors.      1
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these thresholds and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media authority=1, competition authority=0,5))    

This variable aims to assess if the law / regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation on audiovisual media concentration.  

  1
Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?    

This variable aims at assessing if the law is providing a due system of sanctions to sector-specific regulation, such as:

- Refusal of additional licenses;

- Blocking of a merger or acquisition;

- Obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;

- Obligation to give up licenses / activities in other media sectors;

- divestiture.

 0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?    The relevant authority never uses its sanctioning powers. The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies provided by the regulation.  0.5

Can a high degree of cross-ownership between different media be prevented via merger control/competition rules that take into account the specificities of the media sector?    

 

For instance, cross-ownership can be prevented by competition law: 

- by the mandatory intervention of a media authority in M&A cases (for instance, the obligation for the competition authority to ask the advice of the media authority);

- by the possibility to overrule the approval of a concentration by the competition authority for reasons of media pluralism (or Public interest in general);

Even though the law does not contain media-specific provisions - it does not exclude the media sector from its scope of application

 0.5 
Is there an administrative authority or judicial body actively monitoring compliance with these rules and/or hearing complaints? (e.g. media and/or competition authority)This variable aims to assess if the law/regulation provides a due monitoring and sanctioning system for the regulation against a high degree of cross-ownership in different media sectors via merger control/competition rules0.5
Does the law grant body sanctioning/enforcement powers in order to impose proportionate remedies (behavioural and/or structural) in case of non-respect of the thresholds?Examples sanctioning/enforcement powers and remedies:
- blocking of a merger or acquisition;
 - obligation to allocate windows for third party programming;
- must carry obligation to give up licenses/activities in other media sectors ;
- divestiture.
0.5
Are these sanctioning/enforcement powers effectively used?The question aims at assessing the effectiveness of the remedies of the regulation.0.5
Total (Mean of L-e und L-I sub-indicators)5

Law on Protection of Competition (Official Gazette 51/2009 and 95/2013)

Ownership Transparency

Result: Medium

This indicator assesses the transparency of data about the political affiliations of media owners as ownership transparency is a crucial precondition to enforce media pluralism.  

Result: Companies registered in the Serbia have to report their ownership structures and relevant changes to the Serbian Business Register’s Agency, which is publicly accessible. Ownership transparency in Serbia is rated as MEDIUM.

Why?

Our sample includes 11 Television outlets, 10 Radio, 15 Print editions and 12 Online outlets, in total 48 media outlets. In 75% of cases Data was Publicly available, i.e. ownership traceable in public records. 18.75% of outlets were Actively Transparent and in 14.6% of cases ownership was not transparent – Data was deemed Unavailable.

  • For the majority, 36, of the media outlets and related companies, ownership data was at least publicly available at the Serbian Business Register’s Agency. 
  • 9 media outlets were rated as actively transparent more than half of which belong to the PBS, which is legally obliged to inform the public proactively and comprehensively about its ownership. 5 outlets (3 TV and 2 Radio) belong to the Public Broadcasting Service. 4 remaining outlets are print and online outlets that belong to the Swiss-German Ringier Axel Springer Media.  
  • 7 outlets were rated as data unavailable – the companies did not respond to our written requests. In some cases, owners have publicly stated ownership of the outlets but it is no reflected in the public records. 
  • No company actively disguised the ownership structure, e. g. through bogus companies.
LOWMEDIUMHIGH
How would you assess the transparency and accessibility of data about the media ownership? 

Data on media owners as well as their political affiliations is publicly available and transparent. 

(Active Transparency)

Code if that applies to > 75% of the sample. 

Data of media owners and their political affiliations are disclosed based on investigations of journalists and media activists or upon request. 

(Passive Transparency, Data Publicly Available)

Code if that applies to > 50% of the sample. 

Data on political affiliation of media owners are not easily accessible the public and investigative journalists or activists are not successful in disclosing these data. 

(Data Unavailable, Active Disguise)

Code if data is available for < 50% of the sample. 

Considering the answers, distinguish the following levels of transparency:

SampleTransparency LevelDescription
9 of 48Active Transparencycompany/channel informs proactively and comprehensively about its ownership, data is constantly updated and easily verifiable
0 of 48Passive Transparencyupon request, ownership data is easily available from the company/channel 
36 of 48Data Publicly Availableownership data is easily available from other sources, e.g. public registries etc.
7 of 48Data Unavailableownership data is not publicly available, company/channel denies the release of information or does not respond, no public record exists. 
0 of 48Active Disguisein addition to unavailability of true data, ownership is disguised, e.g. through bogus companies, etc. 

 

 

 

Regulatory Safeguards: Ownership Transparency

Result: Low

This indicator aims to assess the existence and effective implementation of transparency and disclosure provisions with regard to media ownership and/or control.

Why?

Score: 16 out of 20 = 80% 

  • Under the Law on Public Information and Media, the media are obliged to provide on their website or in their print edition information on their publisher. Under the law, failure to do so is an offense so a fine of RSD 100,000 to RSD 1,000,000 (approx. USD 898.00 to USD 8.983.00) will be imposed on a legal person – publisher if it fails to publish the imprint.
  • The media are obliged to report to the Register of Media any/all changes of publisher within 15 days of the day the change occurred. If they do not do it, they can be sanctioned by RSD 100.000 (USD 898.00) till RSD 1.000.000 (USD 8.983.00) as well. The director of the publisher can be sanctioned with a fine of RSD 10.000 (USD 8.98) till RSD 100.000 (USD 898.00). 
Transparency Provisions (summarized for TV, Radio, Press, Online - max. score 5 per sector)DescriptionYesNoNAMD
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisions obliging media companies to publish their ownership structures on their website or in records/documents that are accessible to the public?    The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for transparency towards the citizens, the users and the public in general. 1
Does national (media, company, tax...) law contain transparency and disclosure provisionsobliging media companies to report (changes in) ownership structures to public authorities (such as the media authority)?    The aim of the question is to check regulatory safeguard for accountability and transparency towards public authorities.    1
Is there an obligation by national law to discloserelevant information after every change in ownership structure?    This question aims at assessing if the law provides rules on the public availability of accurate and up-to-date data on media ownership. This is a condition for an effective transparency.    1
Are there any sanctions in case of non-respect of disclosure obligations?    This question aims at assessing if the law on media ownership transparency can be enforced through the application of sanctions.    0.5
Do the obligations ensure that the public knows which legal or natural person effectively owns or controls the media company?    This question aim at assessing the effectiveness of the laws that deal with media ownership transparency and if they succeed in disclosing the real owners of the media outlets.    
Medium: some owners are still unknown (=0,5)
0.5
Total16 out of 20

(Political) Control Over Media Outlets and Distribution Networks

Result: Medium

This indicator assesses the risk of political affiliations and control over media and distribution networks. It also assesses the level of discrimination by politically affiliated media distribution networks. Discriminatory actions would for example include unfavorable pricing and posing barriers to media accessing the distribution channel. Political Affiliations means that the media outlet or company belongs to a party, a partisan group, a party leader or a clearly partisan person.

Why? 

40.21% of TV audience share belongs to outlets owned (controlled) by entities with known political affiliations. 7 out of 11 Television outlets in our sample are owned/controlled by individuals with known political affiliations. These are outlets that belong to 3 owners Public Broadcasting Service (RTS1, RTS2, RTV1 = 23.17%) Pink Media Group (Pink, Pink2, Pink 3 = 16.44%) and Maxim Media Group (Studio B = 0.60%).

  • Although Public Broadcasting Service is supposed to be serving the best interests of the public its organizational structure and decision-making boards are comprised of and even overpopulated by people close to the ruling SNS party resulting in politicization of its outlets.
  • Pink Media Group is owned by Zeljko Mitrovic who entered the media business in the 1990s which was tightly controlled by the ruling couple, Slobodan Milosevic and Mirjana Markovic. Keeping close ties with all the governments that formed since then he ensured stable growth for his media business which spread beyond the borders of Serbia into the Balkan region at large.
  • Maxim Media Group is owned by Krdzic family who are playing for the Vucic's team. The family caught attention of the public after the privatization of Studio B when this media outlet received third of the investment on public tender for media projects organized by the City of Belgrade during 2015. City of Belgrade granted 60% (248.058$) of the total amount to Studio B, Radio Hit FM and Radio Karolina's projects in 2015. 

42.6% of Radio audience share belongs to outlets owned (controlled) by entities with known political affiliations. 7 out of 10 Radio outlets in our sample are owned/controlled by individuals with known political affiliations.

  • These are: S Media (Radio S and Radio S2 = 19.6%) owned (in paper) by the mother of Zoran Andjelkovic former Member of the Parliament and currently a high-ranked member of the Socialist Party; Maxim Media (Hit FM, TDI = 11.90%) owned by Krdzic family (see above); Public Broadcasting Service (Radio Belgrade 1 and Radio 202 = 9.40%) and Pink Media Group (Pink Radio = 1.7) owned by Zeljko Mitrovic (see above).

50.73 % of Print audience share belongs to outlets owned (controlled) by entities with known political affiliations. 8 out of 15 print outlets in our sample are owned/controlled by individuals with known political affiliations. 

  • Insajder Tim (Informer – 12.74%) owned by Dragan Vucicevic is a big supporter of the ruling party and his outlets provide a platform for direct attacks and smear campaigns on any critical voices.
  • Adria Media Group (Kurir and Newsweek – 13.8%) owned by Aleksandar Rodic, a controversial businessman, who similar to Zeljko Mitrovic has maintained close ties with every government yet he has produced some front page material with critical and apologetic messages towards the nation for letting the state instrumentalise the outlet ( Srbija Izvini, in English Sorry Serbia).
  • Vecernje Novosti  and Politika among the oldest papers with quality journalism were not successfully privatized with their privatized shares frozen and their ownerships intransparent. The papers are practically state controlled, which has significant stakes (Vecernje Novosti – 30%, Politika – 50%) in the newspapers.
  • Editorial policy in Srpski Telegraf (3.82%) owned by Medijska Mreza (owned by a group of people) suggests close political affiliation as the paper regularly attacks voices from the opposition and critics of the government.
  • Ownership of Pecat (1.91%), weekly newspaper is intransparent but its editorial policy indicates close affinity to the ruling elite. Aleksandar Vulin, former editor of Pecat, is close to the president of Serbian Progressive Party, Aleksandar Vucic and is now the Minister of Labour.
  • The owner of weekly Ekspres is Goran Veselinovic (through a company Publisher ltd) who was the best man of Aleksandar Vucic on his wedding. Veselinovic also owns a PR agency ‘Right’ which had taken over the most of the marketing businesses in Serbia since 2012 when Vucic's Serbian Progressive Party came to power.

Online: unknown. 9 out of 12 outlets in our sample are owned/controlled by the individuals with known political affiliations. Since no audience shares are available for online outlets we couldn’t compute the total audience shares of outlets controlled by politically affiliated entities.

  • These are: Online editions of Adria Media Group: Kurir.rs and Espreso.rs; online edition of Vecernje Novosti: Novosti.rs, Public Broadcaster Service’s online edition: rts.rs; telegraf.rs owned by Veselin Jevrosimovic; mondo.rs owned by Telekom Srbija; Online edition of Informer: informer.rs; srbijadanas.com owned by Aleksandra Martinović, who was one of the owners of Prointer IT solutions and services which was connected to the ruling Serbian Progressive party. 
LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
POLITICISATION OF MEDIA OUTLETS    

What is the share of TV media owned by politically affiliated entities?

Percentage: 40.21%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50% - >30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

What is the share of Radio channels owned by politically affiliated entities? 

Percentage: 42.6%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

What is the share of Newspapers owned by politically affiliated entities? 

Percentage: 50.73%

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation. The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

What is the share of Online media owned by politically affiliated entities? 

Percentage: unknown (9 out of 12 outlets)

The media having <30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having <50%>30% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    The media having >50% audience share is owned (controlled) by a specific political party, politician or political grouping, or by an owner with specific political affiliation.    

Result 2: Medium 

Politicisation of leading distribution networks

Politicisation of leading distribution networks is rated as medium, mostly due to cable TV and internet providers, where partially state-owned company Telekom has a significant influence on provision of services. In print, there is no evidence for political affiliations of distributors, as this part of media sector puts more emphasis on business and economic prospects, rather than political.

  • Some 60% of Serbian population has access to TV channels through cable distribution. Major cable operators are SBB (part of United Group), Telekom (state owned) and Kopernikus (Nis based). The biggest provider is SBB taking 50% of cable market, and its dominating position is often challenged with monopoly rules. These cable operators are in vague legal position with regards to vertical concentration, as they all provide content production and distribution. United Group is the owner of news TV channel N1, while Telekom has 5 sport channels under Arena sport package. Kopernikus, SNS affiliated, runs three channels.
  • Radio and TV frequencies are managed by an independent body, RATEL, in charge of frequency allocation. ETV is created as public enterprise to manage digital TV channels. There were no cases of discriminatory actions by either of these institutions.
  • In addition to providing cable, Telekom also plays important role in providing infrastructure for Internet distribution. Being partially state owned makes Telekom prone to political influences. Other mobile and cable operators also provide internet services.
  • Major print distributors include companies Beokolp, Centrosinergija, Futura plus, Global press, Stampa sistem, Trag press etc. No links to political structures were identified. 
LOW MEDIUM HIGH 
How would you assess the conduct of the leading distribution networks for print media? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.    At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.    All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading radio distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.    At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions.    All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.    
How would you assess the conduct of the leading television distribution networks? 
Leading distribution, are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions. All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions. 
How would you assess the conduct of the leading Internet distribution networks? 
Leading distribution networks are not politically affiliated or do not take discriminatory actions.At least one of the leading distribution networks is politically affiliated or takes occasional discriminatory actions. All of the leading distribution networks are politically affiliated and has a record of repeated discriminatory actions.  

Use of Information and Communications Technologies in Serbia 2016 PDF | 3.20 MB Statistical office of Republic of Serbia

(Political) Control Over Media Funding

Result: High

This indicator assesses the influence of the state on the functioning of the media market, focusing particularly on the risk of discrimination in the distribution of state advertisements. The discrimination can be reflected in favoritism towards political parties or affiliates of political parties in the government, or in penalization of media criticizing the government. State advertising is understood as any advertising paid by governments (national, regional, local) and state-owned institutions and companies.

Result: The overall level of influence on media outlets through allocation of state advertising budgets is assessed as HIGH RISK to media pluralism.

Why?

There is no official, centralized or fully public data on allocation of state advertising budget, making it one of the least transparent aspects of Serbian media market. Due to its potential to corruptive practices, state advertising was subject of a research carried out by the State Anti-Corruption Council. In its 2015 report Council found out that more than 60 million EUR were spent by 124 sampled state institutions between 2011 and 2014, additionally emphasizing that current model of public procurements of advertising services hasn’t improved transparency, competition or efficiency in allocation of state advertising budget.

State advertising is regulated by 2016 Advertising Law, which prescribes several anti-discrimination measures. Additionally, the Law on Public Information and Media prescribes that all state allocations to media should be recorded in Media Register (operationally run by Serbian Business Registry Agency), but this type of budgetary spending is not visible in current display of the Register. 

LOWMEDIUM HIGH 
Is the state advertising distributed to media proportionately to their audience share? Missing Data
State advertising is distributed to the media relatively proportionately to the audience shares of media. State advertising is distributed disproportionately (in terms of audience share) to the media.State advertising is distributed exclusively to few media outlets, which do not cover al major media outlets in the country. 
How would you assess the rules of distribution of state advertising?    
State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on transparent rules.    State advertising is distributed to media outlets based on a set of rules but it is unclear whether they are transparent.    There are no rules regarding distribution of state advertising to media outlets or these.   
IMPORTANCE OF STATE ADVERTISING    

What is the share of state advertising as part of the overall TV / Radio / Print/ online advertising market? 

VALUE: There is no data available on the share of state advertising in the market.  

Share of state advertising is <5% of the overall market.   Share of state advertising is 5%-10% of the overall market.    Share of state advertising is > 10% of the overall market.·  

 

 

Report on possible influence of state institutions on media through Financing of Advertising and Marketing services PDF | 1.56 MB Anti-corruption Council of the Republic of Serbia, 2015

(Political) Control Over News Agencies

Result: Medium

This indicator assesses the range and independence of competing news agencies, including the assessment of the level of state ownership and level of independence of state owned news agencies.

Result: The political control over news agencies is ranked as MEDIUM risk to media pluralism.

Why?

There is no market data for news agencies. There are three major, national news agencies registered in Serbia. Two of them, Beta and Fonet, are privately owned, founded in the 90’s as alternative sources of information during Milosevic era.  The third news agency, Tanjug, was one of the oldest media in Serbia, founded back in 1943, and being state owned ever since privatization in 2014. Tanjug has undergone some unsuccessful privatization process, however, remained on market (semi-legally), in spite of numerous calls of media professionals calling it an unfair competition on the market. Current Ministry of Culture and Information announced to be seeking for acceptable legal mechanisms to put Tanjug back under state auspices.      

LOW MEDIUM HIGH 

What is the market share of the leading news agency?

VALUE: There is no market share for news agencies available.     

No news agency dominates the market (occupy >30% of the market of news agencies). One news agency has <50% ≥30% share of the market of news agencies. The leading news agency has ≥50% market share.    
How would you evaluate the political affiliation and/or dependence of the largest news agency? 
None of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.    At least one of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.    Most or all of the largest news agencies is dependent on political groupings in terms of ownership, affiliation of key personnel or editorial policy.    

ГРАЂАНСКИ НАДЗОР ПРИВАТИЗАЦИЈЕ МЕДИЈА У СРБИЈИ, Koalicija za nadzor javnih financija, 2016 Civil Oversight over Media Privatisation in Serbia, 2016. Coalition for monitoring of public funds

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