Findings of annual research on the financing of media from public funds presented

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) today presented the findings of the annual research «Equal chances for all media» on the financing of media from public funds.

Mina Kalezić, programme assistant at the CCE, pointed out that the research was conducted from May till December 2016, based on the Free Access to Information Law. “The research covered 353 public sector bodies, out of which 255 submitted the information, or 72.3%, while 98, or 27.7%, did not submit the requested information”, she clarified.

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Kalezić added that CCE filed 42 complaints to the Agency for free access to information, and that every complaint was processed in a timely and positive manner: “Public sector bodies which refused to submit the requested information, thereby directly violating the provisions of Free Access to Information Law, mostly opted for the principle of administrative silence. That black list of “non-transparent bodies”, which intentionally choose to violate legal norms are: Capital city Podgorica, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Municipality of Herceg Novi, Montenegro Airlines, Plantaže “13 jul”, and numerous other public bodies and institutions, which budgets are lower and thus passed unnoticed by our research team as significant investors in Montenegrin media. Capital city Podgorica holds the leading position when it comes to non-transparency, because it consistently refuses to provide documentation regarding the investment in media and related subjects”, Kalezić emphasised.

Daliborka Uljarević, CCE executive director, reminded that “this is the fifth national annual report by Centre for Civic Education on the financing of media from public funds, which findings hardly seem to reach the decision-makers which still opt for opaque and discrete investments in media from public funds”.

“Needed legal interventions were not made. The existing legislative framework does not recognise the potential connection between the media financing from public funds on different grounds and the effect of that money on the freedom of media and their economic (in)stability. Furthermore, it does not observe the decisions on advertising as the potential form of discrimination of media and an attempt on editorial policy. Perhaps this time the decision-makers will hear our recommendations better considering that European Commission in its Country Report for 2016 marked this issue as one of the four priorities within the area of freedom of expression”, Uljarević stated.

She added that institutions in Montenegro still refuse to disclose the information regarding the amount of state funds which are annually allocated for advertising, marketing or financing of media on other grounds, as well as that there is no institution which controls the manner in which these budget funds are allocated and spent. “Conclusion of agreement on financial aid and media endorsement, based on the decisions of institution managers, is a practice which must be legally regulated and restricted. This way of doing things directly favours some, and discriminates other media, which causes deviations on media market and disrupts the business of some, or improves the business of other media”, she assessed.

Uljarević told that state is exerting improper influence on media market, through opaque and selective financial allocations of public funds, for advertising and marketing. “This is further aggravated by the existing economic crisis and reduction of marketing investments in businesses, along with simultaneous increase of participation of state, which leaves additional room for the shaping of media scene, compared to other interests of ruling political structure, all through the misuse of state resources”, she noted.

Uljarević reminded of specific legal recommendations which CCE provided: “We regret that during the summer parliamentary debate those amendments weren’t reviewed with due consideration, and were instead dismissed in line with previously adopted political decision. We hope that this important message from Brussels will echo more in Montenegro as opposed to that which we discussed previously, which are practically identical in content”.

Ana Nenezić, programme coordinator at the CCE, presented the findings of annual report on public spending in media sector in Montenegro for 2015, through the cross section of general consumption, but also through special review on RTCG and local public broadcasters.

Nenezić stated that “Total amount of funds which 72.3% of public sector bodies spent in 2015 for various contractual and other relations with news agencies and services, and marketing agencies and production houses, agencies for research of public opinion amounted 1.718.496,42 EUR.

She further clarified: “Out of that amount, top five subjects which received the majority of funds were agency Fleka with 247, 900.00 EUR, then daily Pobjeda with 223,264.40 EUR, RTCG with 166,592.70 EUR (whereby RTCG received the additional 12.600.000 EUR through regular budget allocations), followed by Montenegro Event Agency with 89, 999.00 EUR, and Arhimed with 68, 328.50 EUR).” By reflecting on the structure of allocations, Nenezić indicated that “In the case of print media, 78% of total funds were allocated to Pobjeda, while the remaining 22% were distributed to Dnevne novine, Dan, Vijesti and Monitor. In case of televisions, 53% went to RTCG, while Vijesti received 19% from public funds, 7% went to TV Sun and TV Nikšić, 6% to Prva TV, 5% to Atlas TV and 3% to Pink M. In case of radio stations, Antena M received 33% and radio Skala 22% of total funds, 13% went to Radio Mojkovac, and other smaller percents were shared by radio stations Dux, Jadran, Adriatic, Herceg Novi, Bar… When it comes to portals, Portal Analitika received 73% of all funds which public sector bodies invested in portals, 16% went to portal, and 11% was distributed on portals, Volim Podgoricu, and UL info. Surprisingly, very popular portals Vijesti and CdM, were not recognised as important by public sector bodies.”

Nenezić said that we can already discuss the obvious tendencies of financing of certain media and presented the comparative findings for previous three years. In a review on RTCG, she told that “total public revenue of RTCG in 2015 – from the Budget – amounted 12.850.000 EUR, out of which 12.600.000 EUR related to revenue from general part of the budget of Montenegro, 150.000 EUR were earmarked revenue from the Ministry of Culture, and 100.000 EUR to budget revenue for the digitalisation of public broadcaster.”

Finally, she pointed out that “total amount of money planned for the financing of local public broadcasters by 14 local self-governments, based on the decisions on budget for 2015, amounted 3.144,760 EUR, which is a considerable annual increase, considering that the planned amount for 2014 amounted 2.599,000 EUR.”

Overall objective of project is to raise the awareness of interested part of the public on the responsible spending of funds from the Budget of Montenegro, by indicating on the relation between the public sector in Montenegro and media, through the prism of financial allocations on different grounds. Public sector, as subject of research, in line with the Budget of Montenegro, includes state bodies, municipalities (local self-government units), independent regulatory bodies, public institutions and commercial societies where the state or the municipalities have the controlling stake. Report provides the comparative analysis for previous three years of investments in media, but also proposes set of measures in order to improve the situation in this area. Report “Equal chances for all media in Montenegro” will be presented today at the session of Working group for Chapter 23 to the representatives of competent institutions.

Complete research is available at:

Svetlana Pešić, programme associate