Opposition parties in Serbia have claimed that the ruling Progressive Party is enjoying a disproportionate amount of air time in the national media in the run-up to the parliamentary election on 24 April.
The far-right Serbian Radical Party argues that they receive less air time because they pose a threat to the Progressive Party’s position in the polls.
“We are presented in the media by a very small percentage, if we are presented at all,” Zoran Krasić, from the Radical Party, told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. “We demand that all the parties participating in elections get the same treatment in the media.”
The Liberal Democratic Party also claims that the country’s mass media solely promotes the ruling party and its coalition partners.
“You see misconduct in television on a daily basis,” a spokesperson for the Liberal Democratic Party, Jovan Najdenov, stated. “It happens when government representatives appear in the election campaign beyond the programme dedicated to the elections[...]. Even when they mention us, it is only in short news.”
These claims were supported by members of the SHARE Foundation, Transparency Serbia and the Novi Sad School of Journalism speaking yesterday at a conference in Belgrade. According to the experts, the media is overwhelmingly dominated by the Progressive Party’s campaign.
“There is no balance with the campaigns in the media. The government is being promoted, while no critical journalistic pieces are aired,” Professor Dubravka Valić Nedeljković from the Novi Sad School of Journalism stated, adding that opposition parties are often featured only in a negative context.
Such an imbalance has meant that opposition parties have had to find alternative platforms, leading to a strong presence on social media.
Đorđe Krivokapić of the SHARE Foundation told the conference that opposition parties can only gain exposure on social media, such as on Facebook.
“Dveri (a far-right political movement) only has space on the internet. They dominate Facebook, as do Saša Radulović and the Radical Party, with the Democratic Party and the Progressive Party falling behind,” Mr Krivokapić said.