Following the Serbian December 17 elections, the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) published a report on media election campaign coverage, which contained no data on the television stations with national broadcasting licenses. The REM claimed it had none, which was not true, and the Centre for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) revealed what this data shows.
When the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI) think-tank requested monitoring results for Pink TV, Happy TV, Prva TV and B92 TV, the REM briefly replied that “it has no other data besides the already published data.”
The Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS) said the REM monitored these television stations’ reporting and that this data exists.
The Centre for Investigative Journalism of Serbia (CINS) has had access to the data.
REM Council chief Olivera Zekic told N1 that none of what CINS published is true. “None of the things CINS published and other rushed to pass on is neither true nor in our report because it simply has not been completed. The data is still being reviewed, we are still drafting the report and any attempt to draw something out of it is nothing more than lies and manipulation,” Zekic said.
On Pink TV, the Aleksandar Vucic-Serbia Must Not Stop election ticket got over 18 hours of airtime in the election campaign programming, while all others had a total of around five hours.
The election ticket assembled around the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) got approximately 20 hours of airtime on Happy TV, followed by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) with some six hours. A total of 11 hours was shared between all other election participants.
B92 TV devoted over 12 and a half hours to the Aleksandar Vucic-Serbia Must Not Stop ticket, while all other election participants got about three hours. On Prva TV Vucic’s Progressives were given just over eight hours of programming, and all others a little less than five hours.
The huge difference in air time is not the only issue. All these television stations reportedly largely negatively about the opposition, while only positive things were said about the government.
Zoran Gavrilovic of BIRODI told CINS that there is a system that produces inequality, i.e., favors Aleksandar Vucic, whether he is a participant of an election, or is backing an election ticket.
“When you look at the time, the tone and the topics, this is simply Aleksandar Vucic’s propaganda that is broadcast through a system of controlled media,” he said.
The REM report also shows that, in the election campaign on television stations with national frequencies, analysts mostly promoted government activities and criticized the opposition.