Media Situation in Montenegro

Overview
Overview

Montenegro has undergone a serious change, from a totalitarian society with only one television and one newspaper owned by the state government, to a pluralistic and cluttered media landscape. The situation in Montenegro was similar to other countries of former Yugoslavia. The media market started its development after the country had left the single party system in the 1990s. The biggest issue in Montenegro is financing of media, which is a problem on several levels.

Media that are financed from the state budget are subject to government influence. In theory, all commercial media in Montenegro should be independent, but since Montenegro is a small market, commercial media often carry out PR projects for the government, thus becoming susceptible to government influence. Yet, these are problems faced by all the former Yugoslav republics, and Montenegro is not different in this aspect. The Public Procurement Law reduced government influence to some extent. However, the economic market in Montenegro is getting more liberal due to European legislation (which is adopted by Montenegro on the road to EU membership). Moreover, Montenegro is still dealing with problems of media freedom, media ownership and the great number of media titles in comparison to the very small market.

Digitisation of media outlets has been in full progress in recent years, resulting in a large improvement of the quality of TV signals. However, the switch from analogue to digital has not been completed. For instance, in 2019, the public broadcaster RTCG published a tender for digitisation equipment worth eleven million Euros.

In Montenegro, the popularity of the Internet is growing, especially among the younger generation. However, print media and television have not lost their influence in Montenegro, but are financially struggling being faced with the rise of online news portals.

The European Commission’s report for 2020 evaluates the progress for the reporting period is still limited and some previous recommendations are still to be met in the future. Yet, it acknowledges that new media legislation is “a good basis for this”. While the media environment remains highly polarized, the self-regulatory mechanisms are still weak. In this sense, the capacity of the regulatory authorities is to be strengthened in order to accomplish the full set of recommendations. In the same period, the COVID-19 pandemic had some negative impact on printed, online and electronic media channels as the revenues declined while costs remained high or were increased even more. Although the Ministry of culture provided some additional funding which is evaluated as positive, their transparent and unbiased implementation remains vital.

Sources:

Jelena Jovanovic

2020 adjusted by Luise Mosig, KAS Media Programme South East Europe

2021 adjusted by Ralitsa Stoycheva, KAS Media Programme South East Europe