Croatia: Whether general situation in media scene is a result of ignorance, or an intention, the consequences are devastating
Censored Countries Croatia Gray Latest
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Translation: Fairpress

Authors: Ana Hećimović and Munir Podumljak, PSD

Lack of information about media in public sphere is one of the most emerging issues when media in Croatia are concerned. Reporting on media occurs on the rare occasions and as a product of internal squabbling between media outlets. Absence of the evidence based reporting or analysis over the media sector, significantly limits the social capacity to create public judgment over key socio-political issues.

Sporadic outbreaks of the „media wars“ often accompanied with „customized truth“ in the media pieces create strong notion that something is wrong in society or in media, without providing even the basic evidence – who, when, what, where, why, or how. Instead, publisher’s theories and ideologies are subtly delivered to public in exclusive news format.
General public without ability to check the facts in the distributed information, and without basic information of the economic, political and private interests behind publishing companies, cannot process distributed information and consequently cannot make stand on important social issues. All together create „tunnel view ideologies” that are reflected in Croatian recession in all aspects of democratic life – from country’s economy to political life and social development issues.

Public sector, in charge of enforcement of media regulations do not contribute to the solution of stated problems. Databases provided on the official websites of the relevant public authorities would hardly enlighten any reader of such content. Requests for information often prove to be fruitless, as well. Some of the most important information, such as ownership of the media, market indicators and statistics on criminal proceedings against the journalists or publishers, are not available at all due to the badly regulated competences over the

relevant authorities.
According to the Media law, Croatian Chamber of Commerce collects the data on the ownership structure of the print media, but when asked what exactly does the Chamber monitors when it comes to the ownership structure of the publisher, Mr. Rajko Naprta from Chamber’s Department for Paper, Press and Media was very precise:

„We are competent to check only two things: that the publisher indeed submitted the official Excerpt from the Court register and that under it´s activities it has registered media activity.„

Discussions or even actual decisions with the legal force on highly concentrated media market are perception based. Actual measurements and methodology or information management in relation to the media concentration simply do not exist. In their reply to the request for information, Croatian Competition Agency stated that they “do not possess data on market share of media in Croatia, nor they have information of where such data could be found”. Such statement is odd, bearing in mind that this body supposed to protect Croatian media market as well as Croatian public against media concentration and monopoly that could significantly endanger democracy in Croatia.

Whether general situation in media scene is a result of ignorance, or an intention, the consequences are devastating. A fundamental role of the media in serving public interest is taken for granted. As Croatian citizens do not have information about who controls and designs the content they consume on daily bases, they can only hope that information distributed through the existing media is in their best interest.

 

 

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