Serbia: Results of Monitoring Public Service Broadcasters Published

Novi Sad Journalism School, a SEENPM member, is implementing the monitoring of public service broadcasters (PSBs) during 2016.

The project yielded six thematic reports so far, published in Serbian (and featured below), each dealing with specific topics within the research.

The aim of the six-months long monitoring of PSBs’ programs is to establish in what way and to what degree Radio-television of Vojvodina (RTV) and Radio-television of Serbia (RTS) fulfill public interest stipulated by law.

Another aim is to establish to what extent PSBs fulfill their legal obligation to take care of socially vulnerable groups while meeting the needs for information of all parts of the society without discrimination.

Also, the research aims to show to what extent PSBs fulfill legal principles of work, such as the independence of editorial policy and other principles of independence from economic and political power centers.

The project is funded by the Open Society Foundation.

Flash report 1: The campaign before the campaign

Parliamentary elections in 2016 were marked by a campaign that began even before the elections were officially announced. Uncertainties about the date, scope – and, in the end – the cause of holding the elections, were not obstacles for parties to announce coalitions, to launch promises and slogans, to attack their political opponents or to make ideological (re)positioning. This period of uncertanties, when nothing was known formally – but informally everything was known, was used by ruling parties for the acquisition of additional positive publicity, which was mainly based on the self-promoting performance of public functions entrusted to them. The report “The campaign before the campaign” provides an analysis of primetime news programs on Radio-Television Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina in the period from 18 January to 1 March 2016.

Flash report 2: The campaign outside the campaign

Placement of various pseudo events, such as laying of cornerstones, red tape cuttings and the announcement of investments, helped the ruling party to receive free positive publicity in the media during the election campaign. The privileged position of the ruling party was accompanied by insufficient engagement of journalists, lack of critical attitude and lack of distance from promotional events. This campaign was based on positive attitudes, on the fight outside the formal flow of the campaign and on self-promotion, with insufficient confrontation of opinions and the exchange of arguments, which is also reflected in the rhetoric of subjects. The report “The campaign outside the campaign” presents an analysis of primetime news programs on Radio-Television Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina in the period from 1 March to 21 April 2016.

Flash report 3: Public services, children and youth

In the domain of children’s programs, Radio-Television of Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina meet the basic criteria stipulated by the Act on public services: content is mainly represented in an adequate manner, consistent with the age of the children, and – with rare exceptions – it promotes a positive value system, with a focus on learning, solidarity and healthy life. On the other hand, public services are heavily reliant on re-runs, which is justified when it comes to the promotion of universal values, but at the same time it is (more or less) outdated, because such programs cannot respond to all the challenges of the children of the 21st century. The report “Public services, children and youth” presents an analysis of TV and radio shows for children on Radio-Television Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina in the period from 18 January to 30 June 2016.

Flash report 4: Culture in the public services

The six-month long monitoring of Radio Television of Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina shows that contents in the field of culture are rich in themes and genre diversity. Different shows, observed in total, cover all topics, present events and phenomena, illuminating individual activities of artists, cultural workers, questions and issues in the work of cultural institutions and the overall cultural policy. In this comprehensive editorial policy, every radio and television show keeps its uniqueness and remains recognizable in the program schedule. The report “Culture in the public services” provides an analysis of TV and radio shows dedicated to culture on the Radio-Television Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina in the period from 18 January to 30 June 2016.

Flash report 5: Changes on the Radio-Television of Vojvodina

Starting from May 2016, a series of changes – on the administrative, editorial, journalistic, programming, political-ideological and financial level – affected the Radio-Television of Vojvodina. Some of these measures have had a negative impact on programming diversity and the overall quality of the program, particularly when it comes to news programs: the genre diversity is reduced, the share of pseudo-events is increased, as well as the representation of the executive authority. The extensive monitoring of public service, implemented during the first six months of 2016, which included all segments of the program, enabled the comparative analysis of the quality of RTV programs in the period before and after the editorial changes. The results of this research are presented in the report “Changes on the Radio-Television of Vojvodina”.

Flash report 6: Women in the programs of public services

Although both public services are, compared to many commercial media, more tolerant in relation to gender, it could still be argued on the basis of this monitoring that the broadcasters dominantly have a male view of the world in which we live, regardless of the fact that more female than male journalists work in public service media, and that there is no open misogyny and hate speech against women. The report “Women in the programs of public services” provides an analysis of TV and radio shows dedicated to culture on the Radio-Television Serbia and Radio-Television of Vojvodina in the period from 18 January to 30 June 2016.

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