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Why can't civil society media grow in Serbia?

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This article starts with basic information about historical developments and circumstances concerning Serbia as a country still in the process of transition. Media restructuring is explained from the point of view of an activist who has been fighting for civil society media both in research and practice. The process of transition that is taking place in Serbia is a good opportunity for an attempt to establish a third media sector. However, this endeavour has been unsuccessful so far because most media organizations restructuring from government monopoly have chosen the commercial privatization option, even though civil society media are a legally sanctioned and recognized option. This article presents results that are far from optimistic. The main part of the article is dedicated to reasons that explain how a specific type of broadcasting media has been prevented from growing in Serbia. The civil society media model was, and still is, a blind spot of media transition. It is ignored in the political sphere, and the public is not properly informed about it. Journalists are not keen to try media restructuring in the direction of civil society media either, as a survey of their opinions and attitudes shows. The survey indicates that professional journalists also have poor knowledge about civil society media as an alternative to privatization. Consequently, they did not attempt to make use of civil society media legislation in the restructuring of their own media organizations. An encouraging finding of the survey was that working journalists are aware, in principle, of the liberating and participatory potential of people's media. It seems that only the rise of civil society in Serbia can create the societal conditions in which civil society media can graduate from hope to reality.
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Keywords: Serbia; civil society media; local media; media transition; privatization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Belgrade, Serbia.

Publication date: 2009-03-01

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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