Freedom of the press in Serbia Fact Sheet

SERBIA

This fact sheet provides a brief overview of the current state of press freedom in the Republic of Serbia.

This document includes examples of press freedom violations and other threats that journalists face in their pursuit of the truth.

The Serbian Constitution grants the right to freedom of expression, with restrictions permissible only when the purpose is to safeguard the rights and reputation of others, maintain the authority and objectivity of the court, protect public health, uphold the morals of a democratic society, and safeguard national security. The Serbian Constitution also affirms the freedom for everyone to establish media without requiring prior permission. Television and radio stations in Serbia are subject to licensing, yet censorship is prohibited.

Most media outlets in Serbia are commercial, privately owned, and primarily supported by advertising income. Nonetheless, the presence of media owned by municipalities remains widespread.

While the Serbian government is dedicated to removing state involvement in media ownership and privatising all currently state-owned media, a process already mandated by the Law on public information, law implementation in the country remains hesitant.

In October 2023, the Serbian parliament voted in favour of a new law on public information and media, along with amendments to the law governing electronic media, despite facing widespread criticism from watchdogs and media experts arguing that this law would enhance government control over television.

Journalists in Serbia work under unfavourable conditions, while journalism in general is characterised by job insecurity, low salaries and deterioration of professional reputation and esteem. Journalists frequently face threats in the course of their work despite the existence of formal legal assurances of their safety.

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