RSF says new Serbian law does not tackle unreliable news content

Source/Author: RSF

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned on Tuesday that the Serbian government’s draft law does not tackle unreliable news media content and called the European Commission to take a firm stand on the issue.

“A law proposed by the government does nothing to address the problem of unreliable news media content in Serbia, which has become a fertile ground for pro-Kremlin media. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the European Commission to take a firmer stance on this issue in its negotiations with Serbia to join the European Union,” a press release said.

According to RSF, pro-Russian media content has increased since the Ukraine war started. “Although the government exercises a great deal of control over much of the Serbian media landscape, it seems to be doing nothing to resolve the problem of Russian propaganda through measures to encourage more reliable news and information,” it added.

“Serbia continues to drag its feet on the reform of media regulation that it has undertaken to carry out before the European Commission. The long-awaited Law on Public Information and Media, currently the subject of public consultation, does not in any way resolve the problem of the lack of journalistic ethics in Serbia’s TV channels,” the press release said.

„It is shocking that the Serbian government, which officially says it wants to join the European Union, tolerates, and even encourages, the dissemination of Russian propaganda via pro-government media. We call on the European Commission to be firm and to ensure that measures to promote reliability of information in the Serbian media and to combat propaganda, especially Russian propaganda, form part of the accession negotiations. These two subjects must be included in the ‘enlargement’ package and in the Rule of Law report, now extended to candidates for EU membership,” it quoted RSF EU-Balkans Desk chief Pavol Szalai as saying.

RSF said it has been urging the Serbian government since 2022 to do everything possible to strengthen media independence and reliability.