SARAJEVO, 22.03.2018.-The ending conference of the project MEDIA CIRCLE –The citizens’ response to clientelism in the media in Southeast Europe was held today in Sarajevo. None of the countries of Southeastern Europe covered by the measurement of clientelism in the media has a positive index. In the overall order, Croatia has the most favorable index (-0.32), followed by Serbia (-0.50), Montenegro (-0.55) and Macedonia (-0.58). At the bottom of the order are Romania and Bosnia and Herzegovina with an index of -0.67.
The Media clientelism index based on empirical data is measured by the political influence on the media, the existing state of the legislative and institutional framework of the media, and the key econometric measurements of the reality in which media and journalists work in the countries of Southeast Europe.
“We conducted a horizontal and vertical survey through the collection of empirical data in the countries of South-East Europe. The data gives additional insight into the individual situation in these countries “, said the director of the Partnership for Social Development Munir Podumljak who presented the goals, methodology and the basic findings of the regional research.
The burning problems detected by the survey in the countries of the sample are non-transparency of media ownership and media policies, and the involvement of persons connected with organized crime in the ownership of the media. In addition, the non-transparent impact of advertising agencies is registered, especially in digital marketing, and digital media has been recognized as a completely unregulated new power in the market.
According to the results of the survey, the situation in BiH is the worst of all countries in the region. Alem Sinanovic from the Vesta organization in Bosnia and Herzegovina, pointed out that the research in BiH in the first year was difficult and slow due to the closure of institutions. “In the third year, we received more than 80% of the answers to our inquiries by institutions, but the most important thing is that we all got a credible way of collecting quality and empirical data,” Sinanovic said.
Nebojša Ilijevski from the Macedonian organization Public, says that the measurements in Macedonia showed the penetration of organized crime into ownership of the media. “The worst thing is the existence of ‘unpublished contracts’. Nominal owners are listed as formal owners in the court register, however, contracts between nominal and actual owners are not included in the file, “Ilijevski said.
Ana Hećimović from the Prtnership for Social Developmemt pointed out that Croatia as well has the problem of media ownership that is in the hands of members of the criminal organization, and that during the research period there was a case of suspicious and non-transparent sale of the regional newspaper Novi list.
Full media ownership transparency has been highlighted as the first priority that must be addressed by all future policies for the regulation of media space. Among the other recommendations of the research, the need for changing the political culture and practice is highlighted in which the winner in the elections receives public media as part of the “election prey”, as well as the need for free access to comprehensive media ownership registers, financial and material giving to the media, subsidies, and existing and the hidden interests of those involved in decision making on media issues, in real time to all interested citizens.
Media clientelism index covered the key questionscovered all key issues addressed by the European Commission’s media freedom guidelines and other existing media freedom freedom indexes (Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, etc.), but in a somewhat different way.
Besides to measuring the reality of the media in Southeast Europe, the Index provides a detailed insight into all aspects of the functioning of the media for decision-makers as well as for those who want to participate in public debates on media policies.
Measurement of the Index was carried out in six countries of Southeast Europe within the project Citizens’ Response to Clientelism in Media, MEDIA CIRCLE, which has been running since 2013. The lead applicant is the Partnership for Social Development from Croatia, together with a consortium of 8 organizations: Expert Forum from Romania; BH Journalists and VESTA from Bosnia and Herzegovina; Institute for Public Policy from Montenegro; Public from Macedonia; Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina and Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights from Serbia. The project is financed by the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) of the Civil Society Facility (CSF) and co-financed by the Office for NGOs of the Government of the Republic of Croatia.