Montenegro - 2014 Media Report

According to a research by the Centre for Civil Education (CGO), the government and state institutions publish 90 per cent of their advertisements in media run by them and their close allies.

There are four dailies on the market: Pobjeda, Vijesti, Dan and Dnevne novine.

Pobjeda was the only daily newspaper printed in Montenegro until September 1997. Its first issue was published on 24 October 1944. In November 2007, the Montenegrin government announced its intention to sell 51 per cent of its stake in Pobjeda By the tender's closing on March 4, 2008 no offers came in. In May 2008, the state announced that it would open another tender. The government announced in July 2014 that Montenegro’s Tax Administration would file a petition for bankruptcy of the state-owned daily Pobjeda, as it was unable to collect tax claims from the company amounting to approximately 1.154 million EUR. The daily received over 20 million EUR in tax-payers support from the state from end of 2002 until 2014. In November 2014, Greek businessman Petros Stathis became the new owner of Pobjeda.

Stathis' company, Media Nea, took over the bankrupt state-owned daily as the only investor interested in buying the troubled outlet. The Greek company, which already owns another Montenegrin daily, Dnevne Novine, offered 750,000 EUR for the newspaper. Pobjeda was printed in Latin script for the first time on 21 May 2010, after 66 years of being printed in Cyrillic. Editor-in-Chief Srdjan Kusovac noted that the decision was made after a poll showed that most of its readers chose Latin over Cyrillic as their primary writing script

Vijesti daily was founded in 1997. The paper is published and managed by an entity called Daily Press d.o.o. The company's ownership is currently split between Montenegrin partners (59 per cent), Austrian Styria Medien AG (25 per cent), and American MDLF fund started by George Soros (16 per cent). The newspaper was previously co-owned by German WAZ Group from 2002 until 2007.

Dan daily has been on the market since 1999. As of 2009 it held the second place after Vijesti daily with a share of an estimated 31.6 per cent of the country's total readers. On 27 May 2004 Dan founder and Editor-in-Chief Duško Jovanović was assassinated on a Podgorica street in front of the paper's offices.

On 26 December 2013, a bomb exploded in front of the office of daily Vijesti in front of the editor-in-chief’s office. The perpetrators were found in 2014, but they denied association with the event. It is still not clear who was behind the attack.

On 3 January 2014, journalist Lidija Nikcevic was physically attacked in the town of Niksic. The assailants have been arrested and court process against them has started. One of the assailants, who denied his involvement, attempted suicide while in detention.

On 13 February 2014 SEEMO reacted with following statement: The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed by today's arson attack against a vehicle owned by the Montenegrin daily Vijesti. At 2:30 a.m., a car marked with the name of the daily was set ablaze on a street in the Podgorica, the latest of several attacks against Vijesti's journalists and property over the past eight years. In three separate incidents in 2011, four company cars were set on fire by unidentified assailants. “The attacks against Vijesti are worrying. I call on the authorities – including the police and the state prosecutor – to immediately open an investigation into this incident and ensure that the perpetrators of this attack are brought to justice,” SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic said. “The authorities in Montenegro should also investigate all other unsolved attacks and threats against journalists and media companies in Montenegro in recent years. It is disturbing that most police investigations did not result in arrests of those responsible.”

In February 2014 the Commission for monitoring the investigation of attacks against journalists was formed. The commission is composed of government representatives, journalists’ associations and independent media representatives. The president of the commission is Nikola Markovic, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of daily Dan. The commission will assist in solving numerous unsolved journalist attacks, including the 2004 murder of Dusko Jovanovic, the former editor-in-chief of daily Dan. At the time when the Commission was established, the government announced 1,000,000 EUR reward for the witness testimony regarding the case, but later withdrew this offer.

Court processes against media have continued, revealing an abuse of power in regard to media. Vijesti, Dan and Monitor have paid more than 300,000 EUR in fines during recent years.

In 2014 there were several on-going trials. The most interesting one was initiated by Milo Djukanovic’s sister, Ana Kolarevic. She initiated court proceedings against daily Dan and weekly Monitor because they reported on her involvement in the Telekom corruption case. At the first court instance, Dan and Monitor were acquitted from the accusations, while Vijesti was fined 5,000 EUR. The higher court, acting upon Kolarevic’s appeal, overruled the acquittal for Monitor and the case is now back in the first instance court for further consideration.