Financial crisis is censoring Kosovar media

Financial crisis is censoring Kosovar media

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, May 5, 2014/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

In its latest report on the freedom of media in the world, Freedom House organization has ranked Kosovo 98th, among the partially free countries.

Compared to last year, figures indicate that Kosovo has advanced. Last year, Kosovo ranked 102nd or 4 places below.

Kosovar journalists believe that the media and they are facing great challenges.

The vice editor in chief of “Zeri” newspaper, Lavdim Hamiti told IBNA that media in Kosovo have been facing a big financial crisis in the recent years, something which is leading to constant job cuts and a degradation of the level of journalism.

“The majority of daily newspapers are working with the  minimum number of staff. They serve to particular political parties, especially the ones in power which have a greater financial potential. Following the independence of Kosovo, media has faced a serious financial situation due to the fall in the number of readers, which is also a world trend and also due to institutional ads orientation in the media theta support the government. This is why we have only a small number of media which have managed to preserve editorial independence”, says Hamiti.

According to him, government of Kosovo, which aspires to be part of European structures, must be more engaged in securing an environment for free media and not an environment where media serves to particular political parties.

Editor in chief of “Blic” newspaper, Shkelzen Dakaj told IBNA that media in Kosovo have had many problems and are controlled by businesses close to the government.

“If we analyze the latest report of Freedom House which says that Kosovo has marked progress in terms of the freedom of the media, I believe that this is due to a new situation that has been created. It’s not that media is free and independent now, but there’s a new form to control them in place. Thus, we’re doing better in the aspect of threats, intimidation and so on, but in reality, media is now facing another form of control, the financial one”, says Dakaj.

According to him, before, when there were donations from different foreign foundations, Kosovar media was freer in the aspect of editorial policies.

“I don’t think that we will ever have free media, for as long as all powerful businesses in this country have ties with politics. In other words, for as long as we have such a rich a political class which is behind every powerful business”, says Dakaj.

Arben Ahmeti, editor in chief in the daily “Tribuna”, says that the freedom of press in Kosovo is a cause for concern.

“We continue to be in the same difficult situation as far as media is concerned. It’s a little impossible to believe that we have a positive change. On the contrary, I believe that in spite of the efforts made by journalists to improve the legal framework in general and the environment in which media operates, the situation is still worrying. The freedom of media continues to degrade and this is cause for concern”, says Ahmeti.

He mentions some of the problems that media and journalists face. He says that journalists face an unsafe environment and institutions which do not have the culture of transparency and accountability.

In order to have a stance in relation to the functioning of the Association of Professional Journalists of Kosovo and on the occasion of May 3, IBNA has attempted to contact the head of this association, Liridona Lluka-Gashi, but this was impossible.

Besides threats and blackmail that Kosovar journalists have been facing in their work, marketing in the recent years is seen as a modern way to control the media.

Analysts say that the government and state agencies, through their ads, also dictate the editorial policy of Kosovar media, which are yet to enjoy financial sustainability. /ibna/