Media Situation in Kosovo

Media in Kosovo experienced entirely two different epochs, before and after the Kosovo War. Before the War media in Albanian language, the native tongue of most Kosovars, were banned or intimidated. After the War, with the help of the international community, a public broadcaster was set up and several private ones were aided. Since then, the media market has grown and diversified.

Kosovo’s Constitution protects free expression and media plurality. In 2012 the Government included an article in the proposed Criminal Code that makes it possible journalists to be jailed if they do not reveal their sources. However, the Kosovo Assembly rejected that particular article, after pressure from media and civil society. The access to public documents is guaranteed by law. But, there is still no official Government spokesperson since 2010, who could represent the idea of openness and professional government communication through his work.

Kosovo’s media are in a tough financial situation. They are dependent and influenced by political power and business groups, and also criticized by international organisations for a lack of professionalism. The international organisation "Freedom House" evaluates media in Kosovo as "partly free". In 2014, it ranked Kosovo in the 98th place and "Reporters without Borders" ranked Kosovo 80th out of 180 countries.

The US State Human Rights Report for 2013 claims that "growing financial difficulties left the editorial independence and journalistic professionalism of both print and television media vulnerable to outside influence and pressure". The European Progress Report for Kosovo 2013 evaluated that professional standard of broadcast and print journalism needs to be improved, with a particular focus on online media.

Online journalism is rapidly developing with the growth of technology and internet usage. However, there are fears that online news portals frequently sacrifice basic ethical rules of journalism (concerning fact-checking and copy-pasting). In Kosovo, there are two important bodies that control and monitor the work of media. The Independent Media Commission (IMC), established in 2005, is responsible for licensing public and private broadcasters, and for monitoring their work in accordance with the Code of Conduct. IMC members are elected by the Assembly of Kosovo. The composition of members of the IMC reflects gender diversity and multi-ethnicity. IMC has been criticized for being politicized. There is no state body that monitors the work of print and online media. The Press Council of Kosovo is a self-regulatory body created by some of the newspapers and online portals.

Jeta Abazi, University of Pristina

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