Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by Vojislav Raonic

  The media landscape in Montenegro has undergone significant changes in recent years. An increased number of private/independent media has been established, both in print and electronic media domain. At the moment, apart from the state owned or public media, Montenegro, with a population that does not exceed the figure of 650,000, has 22 private radio stations, six private TV stations and dozens of papers, most of them being weekly magazines, and three daily papers. In addition to that, the Republic of Montenegro has been completely opened for foreign media contents. Montenegrin public and private media regularly broadcast programs of Radio Free Europe, The Voice of America and BBC World Service. Papers from Serbia and the region freely circulate throughout Montenegro and Federal television station YU-INFO transmits its program using technical facilities of Yugoslav Army. Media of Montenegro predominately broadcast or print their own productions and are beginning to establish their own profile in the media landscape. This private/independent media shows a great variety of orientations, style, content and professional level as well. Media situation has been additionally improved in the last three to four years during which Montenegro political mainstream has become pro European and western style democracy orientated.

  Having said all that, it would be quite inappropriate to glorify the media situation in Montenegro. More and more there is a growing consensus that many think the domain of media should be changed for better.

  Generally, the weak points are relatively low level of professionalism among journalists and other media professionals, low level of media technology being implemented, poor media management without revenue oriented policy, lack of clear strategy of advertising management, lack of investigative journalism and bad economic situation of the media.

  Poor economic conditions seriously affect media sphere in Montenegro. Its economy was first ruined by civil war in former Yugoslavia and after that has been exposed to double ring of economic sanctions for years. This situation has had especially grave consequences to old fashioned and overstaffed media, which are having difficulties in the process of restructuring. In addition to that, lack of profit and revenue oriented management policy causes low wages and consequently poor professional standards. Montenegrin media community also has problems with journalist generation shift. As experienced journalists have been leaving the media scene, many young journalists are entering the arena without previously received professional training.

  There are many international initiatives and media related projects unfolding in Montenegro at this time. Civil sector of the society, NGOs and professional associations are included in most of this activities in order to assist and harmonize interests of media community. Due to foreign donor's projects many media manage not only to survive, but to improve their program content as well.

  Social climate for the development of a professional, independent, impartial and objective press is generally positive. There is no censorship or suppression of the press or radio and TV programs and there are no obstacles to free access to sources of information. Media can be considered open. Universally accepted standards of diversity reporting are adhered, which mirrors Montenegrin culture of tolerance and multiethnic coexistence. This environment is being used by variety of media of different orientation. Representatives of almost all-political parties and various interest groups are being quoted on a daily basis by both print and electronic media. State media presents parliament parties statements according to rules adopted in the parliament by consensus. Rules of news coverage and reporting political activities in pre-election period have been negotiated and accepted by all parliament parties. In addition to that, parliamentary parties have agreed to set up The parliamentary Canal, devoted exclusively to party statements and promotions for forthcoming elections. Talk shows and duel programs with representatives of all political options are common and very frequent on both public and private media. Because of the variety of media of different orientation one could say that political attitudes of all relevant politicians are well known to the audience of Montenegro. The impression is that sometimes TV stations even exaggerate in having this duel program in order to compensate lack of pre-recorded production contents. So, the audience can be considered well informed about standpoints and argumentation of politicians. Aside from having various Montenegrin politicians in their programs, guest politicians for Serbia are interviewed on a regular bases on both public and private media. An interesting project of co-operation between Belgrade Media Center and Montenegrin independent TV Montena is going on these days. In that weekly show politicians, historians, university professors, theatre directors and journalists from Montenegro and Serbia discuss the future relations between Serbia and Montenegro in a tolerant atmosphere.

  After all one could conclude that, even the media situation is not ideal compared to countries of developed democracy, there is sufficient media structure and fair practice developed to facilitate election process. All political options are being widely discussed and represented on Montenegrin media and the audience can be considered as well informed about different options, political standpoints and argumentation.

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Prepared 27 March 2001