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Coverage of Serbian President Dominates TV News Shows: Research

Research published on Monday by Serbia’s Bureau for Social Research, BIRODI, a monitoring NGO, shows that President Aleksandar Vucic has been getting 39 per cent of the airtime on nationally-broadcast TV news programmes including those aired by N1, a cable station known for its critical reporting about Vucic and his ruling party.

The research, which focuses on the period from September 1 to October 15, again illustrates Vucic’s dominance of the media ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for December 17. Many watchdog organisations see this dominance of the airwaves as key to his repeated election victories.

After Vucic, the Serbian government was second when it comes to coverage with 17 per cent. According to BIRODI, the left-liberal opposition had a coverage rate of five per cent, while right-wing opposition parties got less then one per cent in the monitored period.

“When it comes to the tone of reporting, the president is presented in an ‘extremely favourable way’ since 88 per cent of the coverage he had was positive, while the government’s coverage was 77 per cent positive,” says the report.

The left-liberal opposition was presented negatively in 45 per cent of its coverage, while in 31 per cent of its coverage, it was represented “neutrally”. The right-wing opposition got 49 per cent neutral coverage and 38 per cent negative, the report adds.

Opposition parties have complained for years about Vucic and his ruling party’s media dominance, as well as smear campaigns against opponents, often labelling them as ‘traitors’, ‘foreign mercenaries’ or even ‘thieves’.

The opposition claims that there can be no fair elections without equal media presence, and wants TV stations with national frequencies, which are under ruling party control, to give Vucic’s opponents wider and more positive coverage.

Source : Balkan Insight

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