This new edition of the South East and Central Europe Media Handbook 2010 (known simply as the SMH) is an updated report about media developments in the South East and Central Europe.
The number of reported cases of press freedom violations in the SEE region has decreased in total in 2010 however; the sources of threats and pressures have been diversified. While political influence has not diminished business groups and lobbies, some of them closely linked to criminal activities, as well as representatives of religious groups, have stepped up the threats. In some countries, the political pressure from local politicians is especially strong.
During 2010, SEEMO registered 406 press freedom violations in Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Kosovo, Republic of Macedonia / FYROM, Moldova, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Turkey and Ukraine. These include different forms of threats in the forms of email, letter, telephone and personal, murders, physical assaults, bomb attacks, detentions and imprisonment, criminal charges, house arrests, political, religious and economic pressures.
The above mentioned cases do not include other types of controls exerted on media such as inadequate media laws, pressure by media owners on editors and journalists, blackmail by advertisers and other economic groups, as well as court cases against journalists that started before 2010 and still have not been resolved. If we were to include these numbers, the Vienna-based SEEMO office would have over 2000 registered cases in the SEE region in 2010. It is also important to note problems that journalists have in their daily work like obscure media ownership structures, problems with collective contracts, lack of contracts and miserable salaries. In some countries, salaries for journalists are kept below the average salary as a means to keep journalists obedient.
I would like to thank the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs, Central European Initiative (CEI) and the Austrian ERSTE foundation for providing financial support for this book. I would also like to thank the contributors. A special thanks to Radomir Ličina, SEEMO Board Member and Senior Editor of Belgrade daily Danas, who has been our Associate Editor from the very first edition of the SMH.
As with any endeavour, mistakes can happen so feedback, comments and suggestions are appreciated, and should be sent to the SEEMO office in Vienna. This will assist us with next year’s edition of the South East and Central Europe Media Handbook (SMH). Also, we would ask readers to inform us about updates as everyone is encouraged to contribute.
Publisher’s Representative and Editor