Media freedom questioned in Serbia

Regulatory bodies should take more decisive steps against the media that violate journalistic codes, experts said. [Nikola Barbutov/SETimes]

Media freedom questioned in Serbia

Several incidents in Serbia have raised questions about whether media freedom in the country is in jeopardy.

Regulatory bodies should take more decisive steps against the media that violate journalistic codes, experts said. [Nikola Barbutov/SETimes]

Media organisations in Serbia are lodging complaints about several recent incidents of alleged government influence that they say is hurting freedom of the press in the weeks prior to the March 16th snap parliamentary elections.

The organisations point to a video parody of Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic that was blocked for several days on YouTube, and a news conference during which a politician tore up a copy of the tabloid Kurir as a political statement.

"The media serve to criminalise not only the opposition, but all critics of the government. The Serbian president himself said that tabloids base their work on blackmail and extortion," Nedim Sejdinovic of the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, told SETimes.

The Share Foundation, a non-profit organisation that "fights to protect civil liberties in the digital age," announced it would press charges against those responsible for the blocking a YouTube parody of Vucic, leader of the Serbian Progressive Party and a leading candidate for prime minister.

The video mocked news footage from February 1st of Vucic helping to rescue citizens snowed in near the small town of Feketic in northern Serbia.

Footage showing Vucic carrying a child through the snow was turned into parodies that hit the internet. A clip titled Superman was posted on YouTube, in which the authors added their own subtitles to the original state TV footage, making fun of Vucic...

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