Media Outlets in Bosnia and Herzegovina

The media market in B&H is fragmented and oversaturated. The media picture of B&H consists of a large amount of media in the tiny area with about 4 million citizens and a small market space to match. Advertising market is being reduced year by year, currently being at about 25 million EUR annually – making this a 40 per cent drop compared to year 2009. In addition, one of the characteristics of B&H media landscape is strong presence (and popularity amongst BH citizens), of imported press and TV channels from neighbouring countries, as the language is similar. This media overspill jeopardizes the already small advertising market, making the survival of B&H media highly questionable. The ownership of the media is generally known, although there are indications that certain media houses are supported by specific political options, or are being owned by someone "in the shadow". There is no law to regulate the concentration and saturation of media.

Print media

In B&H there are 9 daily newspapers, 5 main news magazines and about 100 of various periodicals. All print media is within private sector, often as a part of large business corporations. The print media is in crisis - number of editions is drastically declining compared to previous years, and it mainly fluctuates between 10.000 - 20.000 copies. The reasons for this are economical, dictated by a high VAT (17 per cent - very high for B&H conditions), unfavorable customs regulations when it comes to import of printing repro-material, followed by high distributions taxes. In addition to this, there is the overspill of daily papers and magazines from neighboring countries being distributed through same channels. Behind some of the leading print media houses, there are also strong political lobbies, helping in their financing.

Radio and Television

B&H has a very complex public broadcasting system - comprising of 3 RTV broadcasting services, and it was created under strong pressure of the international community, after the war in B&H. Its structure is specific and complex since it stems from the territorial and ethnic divisions that prevail in B&H, the principles of equal representation, political correctness and the so-called "ethnic key". It consists of three public broadcasters: BHRT, and two entity broadcasters – FTV and RTRS. Additionally, broadcasting licences were issued to 46 TV stations, and 144 radio stations as well. Nearly half of these radio stations are public - regional, cantonal, and municipal media, funded by local budgets, and so facing the pressure from authorities who interfere with editorial policies, base editorial and management appointments on political and ethnic, rather than professional bases, and stack supervisory boards with allies who limit freedom of the press. These media houses face widespread political pressure. Thus, it is still one of the most popular media outlets, especially among older people.

Internet

There are no accurate numbers for online media in B&H. This situation is a result of absence of legal or any other kind of obligation for registration of online media. It is estimated that there are around 100 online portals in B&H currently. There is also significant difference in their quality. It is clear that many portals are moving towards professionalism, accepting self-regulations as their own model of work. On the other hand, there is a significant number of portals that have no identification, not even a contact telephone number. Thus, it is unknown who is behind these portals and who writes for them. Such portals often break the Press Code with unverified and manipulative information. Yet, the popularity of web portals is enormous, especially among young people. Currently, research is being conducted on how to administer the registration of online portals, so that the editorial and ownership is transparent, while still retaining freedom of speech and not restricting it by legislative forces.

Ljiljana Zurovac,

Head of the Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina