Croatia Government Bias
World Press Freedom Rank: Croatia 48/180
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranked Serbia 48th out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index. In their review of Croatia, Reporters Without Borders points out, “Croatian journalists who investigate corruption, organized crime or war crimes are often subjected to harassment campaigns.” The International Press Institute (IPI) also reports about SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) cases against three media outlets. Furthermore, the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) states that as of 2020, “there are 905 lawsuits against journalists and the media in Croatia.”
Media Ownership and Government Analysis
Croatian Media consists of state-owned and privately-owned media outlets. TV is the public’s leading news source and is very popular. The national public service broadcaster is Croatia’s public broadcasting company HRT (Hrvatska radiotelevizija), operating 5 TV and 12 radio stations. HRT’s funding is through license fees (70%) and advertising. Croatia also has commercial TV/radio stations.
The United Group owns Nova TV, and the private broadcaster RTL Television is owned by RTL Group (Luxembourg-based international media conglomerate.) In the newspaper market, the print press is dominated by private news media companies such as Hanza Media (Europapress Holding) which publishes the Jutarnji List, and the Austrian Styria Media Group, which publishes the tabloid 24sata. There are also many online news portals in Croatia, such as Index.hr and Dnevnik.hr (NovaTV).
The Croatian Government influences media in different ways, such as public broadcaster HRT, through the Croatian Parliament appointing the management. For example, according to Reuters, following parliamentary elections, editors were demoted, the head of HRT was replaced, and “members of the new conservative government coalition have also threatened the financial stability of HRT with plans to reduce its license fee by the end of this year.”
Another means to influence is through the court system, which serves as the primary source for policing the media. In Croatia, defamation is a criminal offense used by politicians to intimidate and harass journalists, particularly investigative journalists. When a journalist loses a case, fines are high, and therefore journalists avoid the courts and self-censor. For example, according to IPI (International Press Institute), Index.hr is “currently facing 56 defamation lawsuits and nine further defamation suits target its journalists.” Furthermore, the European Federation of Journalists reports 924 active lawsuits against journalists and media outlets (2021).
Overall, the Croatian Government influences media through libel and defamation lawsuits, resulting in censorship and deterrence from investigative journalism, which is on the rise, evidenced by an increasing number of court cases.
Last Updated on May 7, 2022 by Media Bias Fact Check