PODGORICA, 22.11.2023. – The long-overdue sectoral collective agreement for the media industry has yet to be signed, to improve the socio-economic position of media workers, providing them with additional rights and benefits not covered by the general collective agreement.

This is stated in the European Commission’s 2023 Report on Montenegro.

„Journalists and trade unions continued to report overall poor working conditions of most media professionals, including low salaries, unpaid overtime work, security risks, selfcensorship, and various forms of pressure and undue influence both from media owners and third parties. Employees in local public broadcasters continued working in particularly challenging professional and socio-economic circumstances, being directly exposed to editorial influence and financial control by the local authorities“, the report states.

They refer also to „very weak media self-regulation“ and that „rare existing selfregulatory bodies have a limited impact, as even media outlets and journalists themselves tend to bypass them and take cases against their competitors directly to courts“.

„The media landscape was polarised along political lines and media outlets remained highly vulnerable to internal and external influence from corporate and political interests. Full and effective protection of journalists and other media workers continues to improve, yet tangible results on old cases of attacks have yet to be achieved“, the report states.

It describes Montenegro’s media environment as „highly politically polarised with the uneven application of the journalistic Code of Ethics and professional standards“, noting that limited progress was achieved in the area of freedom of expression.

„The government involved civil society and media stakeholders in the drafting of new media legislation but failed to finalise the legislative proposals and present them to the Parliament. The authorities need to step up efforts to effectively address the pending recommendations of the ad hoc commission for monitoring violence against the media, particularly regarding important old cases“.

European Commission also marked that the public broadcaster, the RTCG, continued to „pursue a balanced editorial policy“, but also noted that in January 2023, the Podgorica Basic Court overturned the RTCG Council’s decision to appoint the public broadcaster’s Director-General as unlawful.

„In May 2023, this ruling was upheld, in second instance, by the Podgorica High Court. In June 2023, the Council reappointed the same person as RTCG Director-General, causing a strong public reaction from multiple CSOs, which accused the RTCG Council of abuse of office and failure to comply with a final and enforceable court decision. The prosecution authorities opened a criminal investigation into the case“, it is stated in the report.