Serbia Media Sustainability Index (MSI)
About the MSI
IREX designed the MSI to measure the strength and viability of any country’s media sector. The MSI considers all the factors that contribute to a media system—the quality of journalism, effectiveness of management, the legal environment supporting freedom of the press, and more—to arrive at scores on a scale ranging between 0 and 4. These scores represent the strength of the media sector components and can be analyzed over time to chart progress (or regression) within a country. Additionally, countries or regions may be compared to one another. IREX currently conducts the MSI in 80 countries, and IREX currently conducts the MSI in 80 countries, and produced the first Europe & Eurasia MSI in 2001.
MSI Serbia - 2013 Introduction
Overall Country Score: 1.92
The year 2012 was another politically, socially, and economically turbulent year in Serbia. Especially strong negative influences on the media sector emanated primarily from the devastating economic conditions in the country and region, and a marked increase in political pressure on journalists.
The European Council granted Serbia the status of EU candidate country in March 2012, after determining that Serbia had taken steps toward a visible and sustainable improvement of relations with Kosovo. Presidential, parliamentary, and local elections were held in May. The elections were free, fair and peaceful, but media election reporting was assessed as insufficiently balanced and analytical. The leader of the conservative Serbian Progressive Party, Tomislav Nikolic, won the presidential election and his party secured the largest number of MPs. Most of the parties that entered parliament are in favor of Serbia’s joining the EU.
The EC’s Progress Report on Serbia noted the need to face fiscal imbalances, implement structural reforms, continue working to expand the economy and attract foreign investment. Unemployment climbed to 26.2 percent in October 2012, while debt approached nearly 55 percent of GDP by the end of July, far above the legally binding threshold of 45 percent.
The government adopted amendments to the strategy for switching over from analogue to digital broadcasting of radio and television programs in March 2012. The planned switchover date, originally scheduled for April 2012 was changed to June 2015. The first digital network was launched in April 2012.
Assessing media development as a whole, the MSI panel largely agreed that sustainability is at its lowest point in years and is getting worse. Firms continue to sacrifice quality and postpone investments in order to stay afloat. The state did not proceed with applying its media strategy. On the contrary, the state’s media policy was almost entirely devoted to seeking greater control over media content. The gap between the law’s provisions on media freedom and its daily practice is dramatically expanding. The media sector is still burdened with an astonishing number of outlets in spite of a wave of media outlet closures in 2012. As such, this year’s MSI showed Serbia stagnating in nearly every objective, with the positive political influence of EU candidacy counterbalanced by the economic crisis and domestic political machinations.