Media of Montenegro
The media of Montenegro refers to mass media outlets based in Montenegro. Television, magazines, and newspapers are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of Montenegro guarantees freedom of speech. As a country in transition, Montenegro's media system is under transformation.
The first radio station in the Balkans and South-East Europe was established in Montenegro with the opening of a transmitter situated on the hill of Volujica near Bar by Knjaz Nikola I Petrović-Njegoš on 3 August 1904. Radio Cetinje commenced broadcasts on 27 November 1944 and in 1949, Radio Titograd was formed. In 1990 it changed its name to Radio Crna Gora.
In 1957, the first TV antenna was placed on Mount Lovćen. It was able to receive pictures from Italy. RTV Titograd was established in 1963 to produce original television programmes and later became RTCG. The first broadcast by TVCG in Belgrade was a news program in 1964.
The legal framework of Montenegro is deemed weel structured and with a formally quite high level of media protection.:19 The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and press. Restrictions are justified only to protect the rights of others to dignity, reputation and honour, or on grounds of public morality and national security. The law criminalizes inciting hatred and intolerance on national, racial, and religious grounds, and there have been prosecutions on these grounds. In November 2014, violation of hate speech laws was turned into a cause of possible media distribution ban.
Other relevant laws with regard to media freedom and freedom of the press in Montenegro include the Law on the Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro, the Law on Media, the Law on Electronic Media and the Law on Access to Information. Moreover, the Electoral Law stipulates the obligation on commercial media as well as on the Radio Television of Montenegro to guarantee equal visibility to all candidates. Their implementation, though, remains inconsistent.:19
Publications can be established without approval and are only subject to registration with the authorities. Broadcasters need to acquire a license.:19 Individuals can criticize the government publicly or privately without reprisal. Following the repeal of the criminal libel law in 2011, parliament enacted a law on amnesty to pardon persons convicted of defamation and insult. Yet, there remains a backlog of cases. The right to reply and the right to a correction; censorship is forbidden. Institutions must guarantee the citizens' right to access to information.:19
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence without court approval or legal necessity, and prohibit police from searching a residence or conducting undercover or monitoring operations without a warrant. The government generally respects the prohibitions relating to physical and property searches, but has been less compliant regarding digital privacy.
The law requires the National Security Agency to obtain court authorization for wiretaps, but authorities reportedly use wiretapping and surveillance inappropriately against opposition parties, the international community, NGOs, and other groups without appropriate legal authority. The NGO Alternativa stated that during 2011, the ANB performed secret surveillance and data collection against 113 persons. NGOs claimed that police and the state prosecutor’s office illegally monitor citizens' electronic communications and fail to account for how many people or Internet addresses they monitor.
The Constitution guarantees the right to access to information and the 2005 Freedom of Information Law entitles journalists and citizens to request public information disclosure. Yet, and the executive remains wary of disclosing information about alleged corruption cases, and several cases have been registered in which authories did not respect the deadline defined in the law.:19 The media regulators lack financial independence and monitoring capacity.
The Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) and the Agency for Electronic Communications and Postal Affairs (EKIP) are the two regulatory bodies, entitled with broad tasks over the sector. Although defined as independent regulatory bodies, both entities have been exposed to the accusation of not being entirely independent, a condition resulting from the indebt interference exerted by politicians over these two bodies.:19
Status and self-regulation of journalists
A journalistic Code of Ethics was adopted in 2003, but the establishment of a self-regulation framework has long stalled. In March 2012, representatives of 19 print and electronic media outlets formed a media council for self-regulation. However, some of the most influential media declined to join what they described as an excessively pro-government group. They indicated that they would form a separate self-regulatory mechanism. A group of small local media outlets from the northern region of the country established their own self-regulation council.
Montenegro has a diverse media environment for a small country, with around 24 television stations, 54 radio stations, 5 daily print outlets, 3 weeklies, and 30 monthlies.
The public broadcasting organization in Montenegro is the state-owned Radio and Television of Montenegro (RTCG/РТЦГ), comprising Radio Montenegro and Montenegro Television. RTCG is a full member of the European Broadcasting Union since the country's independence in 2006. RTCG's financial viability is often at risk and relies heavily on the government as its primary source of information. RTCG's debt stock (€2.4 million) was covered by the state budget in 2014.
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The print press in Montenegro uses both Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, and both Serbian and Montenegrin languages. Dailies in Montenegro include Blic Montenegro (in Latin Serbian), Dnevne Novine (in Latin Montenegrin), Dan (in Cyrillic Serbian, Pobjeda (in Latin Montenegrin) and Vijesti (in Latin Montenegrin). Periodicals include Monitor (weekly in Latin Serbian) and Magazin BIT (monthly in Latin Montenegrin). Local and minority newspapers include Pljevaljske Novine (Pljevlja) and Koha Javore (Podgorica, in Albanian). PCnen (Prve crnogorske elektronske novine) is the main online media. The Montenegrin news agency is the Montenegrin News Agency (MINA).
The pro-governmental newspaper Pobjeda was fully privatized in November 2014, in accordance with a 2002 law requiring the state to sell its shares, after it went bankrupt in July 2014 despite heavy state subsidies through advertising. The new owner, Media Nea, by the Greek businessman Petros Stathis, planned to merge it with its other newspaper Dnevne Novine, laying off half of the staff and establishing a new editorial board.
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Montenegro hosts 14 local public radio stations and more than 40 private radio stations. The state-funded national radio-TV broadcaster operates 2 radio networks: Radio Crne Gore and Radio 98; Other radio stations with nationwide coverage are Atlas Radio, Montena Radio, ProFM, Radio Antena M Radio Crne Gore, Radio Svetigora, and Russkoye Radio (Russian Radio).
Montenegro hosts 4 public and some 20 private TV stations and 1 satellite TV channel. Other privately owned television broadcast stations mostly cover the major cities in Montenegro.
The state-funded national radio-TV broadcaster Radio Television of Montenegro (RTCG) operates 2 terrestrial TV networks: TVCG 1 for news and domestic production and TVCG 2 for sport and entertainment. TVCG Sat is broadcast to Australia and New Zealand via satellite. Government opponents claim that, despite some improvement, RTCG is still controlled by the ruling political structures and that the public broadcaster clearly favors the government in its programming and reporting.
Local TV channels include RTV APR (Rožaje), RTV Nikšić (Nikšić), TV Budva (Budva), RTV Panorama (Pljevlja), TV Teuta (Ulcinj, with coverage in Bar, Podgorica too) and TV BOiN (Tuzi, covering Ulcinj and Podgorica too).
Considering its population of about 600,000 people, Montenegro has produced a number of outstanding film directors and actors including Dušan Vukotić, the first Yugoslav Oscar winner (for the short animated film category in 1961), Veljko Bulajić, and Živko Nikolić.
Mobile telephony has boomed, with 1.1 million lines, provided by three GSM operators: Telenor Montenegro (owned by Telenor), T-Mobile Montenegro (owned by Crnogorski Telekom) and m:tel (owned by Telekom Srbija). 3G services were introduced in 2007. At 178% Montenegro had in 2013 the second highest mobile cellular phone penetration rate in Europe, behind only Russia, and ranked 9th world-wide.
There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet. Until ordered to cease doing so in March 2011, one of the country’s principal Internet service providers gave police direct access to all forms of communications carried on its servers. It is unknown whether authorities made use of this access to monitor e-mail or Internet Web sites or chat rooms. There is no evidence that the government collects or discloses personally identifiable information about individuals based on the individual's peaceful expression of political, religious, or ideological opinion or belief.
Censorship and freedom of the press
In 2015, Freedom House scored Montenegro as "partly free", with an overall score of 39. The organisation recorded the persistence of hostile official rhetoric and serious physical attacks against journalists, whose investigations and prosecutions only rarely led to convictions.
Newspapers remain under the threat of civil damages cases. The independent media Vijesti, Dan and Monitor have been sued and fined thousands of euros for "insulting" the Prime Minister Milo Đukanović and his family. The justice system remains inadequately prepared to deal with media-related cases, since proceedings are slow, investigations inadequate, and judges untrained.
Independent journalists still face pressures from business leaders and government officials, who often behave with blatant favoritism towards the supportive media outlets. Journalists investigating corruption are often accused by officials to "seek to harm the state".
Threats and assaults against journalists, both verbal and physical, are reported constantly and are a source of self-censorship. Many cases remain open, and convictions are the exception. A new governmental commission was set up to supervise investigations on violent crimes against journalists.
- The 2004 murder of Dusko Jovanović, publisher and editor of Dan, was reopened in February 2014.
- In January 2014 Lidija Nikčević, reporter for Dan, was beaten with a baseball bat; five men were later convicted for 11 to 15 months.
- The December 2013 explosion in front of Vijesti’s premises saw two suspects indicted in July 2014.
The European Commission's 2014 Progress Report on Montenegro contains words of concern over the possibility that old and unsolved cases of violence against journalists might soon exceed the statute of limitations. It also called upon the executive to refrain from declarations that “may be understood as intimidation” - such as the March 2014 statement by Đukanović that he would “deal with all kinds of mafia, including the media mafia.”
Reporting often lacks objectivity and professionalism, and most journalism is tabloid-style. The media panorama is politically polarized, with open affiliations of media groups with political parties and business groups. Contents are influenced by business and political interests of media owners. Those media that are critical of the government do not receive advertising placement from state ministries and state-owned organisations.
The financial situation of the media is dire. Journalists are underpaid and pushed to biased coverage. The crisis has taken its toll, with some 500 journalists laid off since 2011 according to the media unions.
- Elda Brogi, Alina Dobreva, and Pier Luigi Parcu, "Freedom of Media in the Western Balkans", study for the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, October 2014, EXPO/B/DROI/2013/16
- "Montenegro", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Freedom House, Freedom of the Press Report - Montenegro 2015
- Law on the Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro
- "Communications: Montenegro", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 15 January 2014. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- "Russia, Montenegro top for mobile penetration in Europe", Telecom Paper, 10 September 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2014.
- Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012", Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
- "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
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