The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), calls on the authorities in Vojvodina, northern Serbia, to protect journalists from political pressure.
With general elections approaching in spring 2012, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) has registered a growing number of journalists’ complaints regarding political pressure.
The complex media ownership structure – a combination of public, private and local ownership, in addition to the lack of transparency – contributes to the media’s vulnerability to different forms of pressure and threats.
In Apatin, a town 200 kilometers northwest of Belgrade, critical journalism seems impossible, according to a NDNV statement. The municipality plays one media against another. It uses the media outlets financed from the municipal budget to attack the others.
In Srbobran, 100 kilometers north of Belgrade, the web portal srbobran.net has received death threats; its photographer was physically attacked during a recent basketball game; and its journalists are not allowed to attend the press conferences in the municipality.
In a conversation with SEEMO, Nedim Sejdinovic from NDNV said: “There is no understanding of the role of media in a democratic society. Most journalists do not report threats,” he added.
“I call on the authorities in Novi Sad and Belgrade as well as the political parties to guarantee and respect media freedom. There is no democracy without press freedom. Media are not instruments of political parties,” said Oliver Vujovic, SEEMO Secretary General.