Half of the citizens consider that the media in Montenegro are not impartial

Citizens predominantly (47.3%) consider that the media in Montenegro are not impartial, and almost half of them deem that the media use facts mixed with rumours. Slightly less than 15% of respondents believe that the media care about the interests of citizens. More than one-third of citizens would forgive their favourite media false news even if it was intentional, and less than one-fifth of Montenegrin citizens fully trust the news programme of the Public Broadcasting Service RTCG, as it was stated today, at the Centre for Civic Education (CCE) at the presentation of the results of the research ”How do citizens perceive media in Montenegro? ”.

Polovina građana smatra da mediji u Crnoj Gori nisu nepristrasni

Damir Nikočević, CCE Development Coordinator, presenting in detail the results of the research, stated that “print media are definitely losing pace with the up to date media, which is indicated by the fact that 8 out of 10 citizens do not read any newspapers regularly, and amongst those who do, most-read newspaper is Vijesti, which are regularly read by 13.3% of citizens, followed by Dan with 11.8% and Pobjeda with 9% ”. He pointed out that daily newspapers are also characterized by a low level of trust, i.e. more than half of the citizens (57.3%) do not trust any daily newspaper. The most trusted newspapers are Vijesti (17%), followed by Dan (10.9%), Pobjeda (9.2%) and Dnevne novine (5.5%).

The most-watched television is TV Vijesti, which is regularly watched by 61.4% of citizens, followed by RTCG with 42.6% and Prva TV with 36.1% of viewers. The same results are recorded on trust in TV stations, indicating that citizens have the most trust in TV Vijesti (36.4%), followed by the Public Broadcasting Service RTCG with 24.9%, and almost one-quarter of citizens do not trust any television”, Nikočević emphasized.

Regarding the radio stations, more than one-half of the citizens do not listen to any radio station regularly, and almost one-half do not trust any radio station.

“This research confirmed the growing importance of the online portals in Montenegro. Citizens predominantly visit the Vijesti portal (56.3%), followed by CdM (35.5%) and the Analitika portal (17.1%). When it comes to trust, the fact that RTCG portal with its 4.9% is far behind the private portals CdM (14.5%) and Vijesti in which citizens have the most trust (28.7%), is worrying”, stated Nikočević.

The findings of the research indicate that more than half of the citizens pay the most attention to the informative and political content, which represents a growth of as much as 29% in comparison with the 2018 results.

Reflecting on the Public Broadcasting Service RTCG, Nikočević pointed out that “one-fifth of the respondents agree with the statement that the public service fulfills the purpose of the media that serves the public interest, while 29.1% of citizens believe that RTCG does not serve the public interest. 17.8% of citizens fully trust the RTCG news programme, partially 35%, while 23.2% of them do not trust it at all.”

When it comes to TV coverage of some important events, the largest number of citizens (69.8%) are informed by watching several TV stations, whereby RTCG has the most viewers (15.5%), while other TV stations have 14.6% (within that percentage, almost four-fifths of citizens cited Vijesti television).

“As many as 37.9% of citizens believe that the truth is not in the first place for the media in Montenegro, while 47.3% that consider that the media are not impartial. When it comes to some more sensitive issues, a low level of trust was recorded, more precisely, only 27.4% of citizens find that the media protect the victim’s and children’s right to privacy, “Nikočević indicated.

The position of as many as 44.8% of citizens that the media in Montenegro use facts mixed with rumours represents a matter of concern. Also, half of the respondents consider that the editorial policy of the media is greatly affected by the political orientation of the owners, and only 13.7% of citizens believe that the media serve their interest, ” he stressed.

Nikočević pointed out as a discouraging fact that the vast majority of citizens stated (87.2%) that the media in Montenegro are willing or somewhat willing to, to increase circulation and ratings, publish sensationalist content that is not at all or is insufficiently verified. The economic viability of the media (30.6%) and independence from political influence (22.7%) are perceived as the best guarantee that some media will report objectively.

43.3% of Montenegrin citizens believe that the media in Montenegro are financed through advertising revenue by private companies and enterprises. There is a similar percentage of those who believe that the media are financed by the Government through state aid (38.3 %%) and advertising (35.5%) were recorded.

As an interesting feature of this research, Nikočević underlined the fact that citizens estimate that many social actors have an impact on the editorial policy of the media in Montenegro, mostly political parties (93%), economic centres of power (91%), media owners (89%), international factors (78%) and the NGO sector (67%).

The largest share of respondents (67.8%) thinks that there is room for public debate in Montenegro. “However, the polarization of political and social actors has made that impossible, and therefore we actually do not have a quality and well-argued debate in the media,” Nikocevic said.

mPolovina građana smatra da mediji u Crnoj Gori nisu nepristrasni

It is also worrying that as many as 36.4% of citizens would forgive the media if they published false information about someone they do not like, for whatever reason, while 43% would forgive if it was not done on purpose. However, as many as 74% of citizens believe that journalists in Montenegro should specialize in narrower thematic areas, which can be a recommendation for newsrooms, ” claimed Nikocević.

The largest share of respondents (38.5%) deems that journalists and media assets in Montenegro are endangered, while 34.2% consider that journalists are not adequately paid for their work.

“The expert part of the research was conducted from 20 to 25 March 2021 by Damar agency, using the CAPI method, with a random stratified sample that consisted of 991 adult respondents. The agency conducted similar research in 2018, which provided a comparative insight into a set of issues that can be valuable for understanding the complexity of the situation in the media sphere and for planning further media policies, but also as an indicator of changes in certain aspects covered by this research, ” explained Maja Marinović, CCE Programme associate.

The research is conducted within the project “Media for Me!”, implemented by the CCE with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Norway and the Balkan Trust for Democracy funded by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (BTD).

Vasilije Radulović, Programme associate