Eroding Freedoms: Media and Soft Censorship in Montenegro

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About publication

CCE researchers: Ana Vujosević, Vladimir Vučković

Publishing year: 2015

In Montenegro, soft censorship is exercised primarily through politicised, discretionary and non-transparent distribution of public money and subsidies to media. Lack of transparency and standard and equitable procedures in allocation of public funding seriously distorts the media market, improving business prospects of some outlets and endangering the existence of others. This is directly related to how favourably or critically media outlets report on governmental activities.

The media landscape in Montenegro is deeply and widely politicised. A sharp division between “supporters” and “critics” of state policies has grown more vivid in recent years. There are on-going attempts to diminish the influence of some media outlets on the Montenegrin public. “Hard censorship” has included violence against journalists—the murder of the editor-in chief of daily Dan, Dusko Jovanovic, on 27 May 2004, remains unresolved, as do most attacks on journalists and on media property, which doubtless evokes self-censorship among media practitioners concerned with self-preservation.

This report describes various means for distributing public funding to media through which political actors exercise control or pressure on media content and viability. It analyses mechanisms of potential influence of public institutions on media editorial policies, and gives examples of abuse of public funds to manipulate media reporting to pursue partisan political goals.