Media Audit 2023: Uncovering the relevance & importance of media in Serbia
The study “Media Audit 2023 - Recognizing the relevance and importance of the media”, which was conducted by Serbian media-watchdog CRTA and supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, sheds light on the media landscape in Serbia, the media consumption of its population and the trust of Serbian citizens in the media.
Television continues to stand out as the most important source of information in Serbia, especially when it comes to socio-political issues. Not only does it maintain its leadership in audience size, but also enjoys the greatest trust, especially the public service broadcaster RTS. This underlines the responsibility that RTS as a public broadcaster should fulfill, and not as the mouthpiece of an increasingly authoritarian regime. Overall, the media landscape in Serbia lacks pluralism, as also all private TV stations with national reach (four in total) report close to the government, so that citizens have no opportunity to receive different points of view and to critically evaluate political actors and their actions.
The study also sheds light on the dangers of information manipulation. Particularly vulnerable groups include older citizens, the less educated and those living in rural areas. Insights into the specific strategies that citizens use to evaluate information show that although many of them try to verify the information they receive, they often use inadequate methods, which leads to further spread of disinformation.
The empirical part of the analysis underpins that brief exposure to counter-attitudinal messages is unlikely to bring about significant changes in a media landscape characterized by one-sided reporting, information manipulation and polarization. These findings stress the importance of strengthening media literacy in Serbia in order to enable society to critically evaluate the content it consumes. Conclusively, the analysis highlights the need to develop strategies aimed at countering information manipulation within Serbia’s media space.