Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
- Freedom of the press is enshrined in the constitution but was under sustained pressure during 2009. Journalists investigating corruption and sensitive subjects were subject to threats, removal from their posts, or court action. In February, Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko brought a criminal case against journalist Zeljko Peratovic for “disseminating information likely to upset the population,” after Peratovic accused him of obstructing an investigation into the death of a witness in a war crimes case. Concerns about political interference in the state media were highlighted in January 2009, when the host of the popular news program Latinica, Denis Latin, lost his contract with the state broadcaster (HRT) after protesting a decision by management to bar an investigative journalist from appearing on his program.
- The media also reportedly faced increasing pressure from commercial interests. In a number of cases highlighted by domestic and international organizations, media owners, fearing the loss of advertising during a recession, restricted critical coverage of the government and influential companies. In March, Hrvoje Appelt was dismissed by Globus after he delved into government corruption allegations. In the spring, two prominent journalists—Marinko Culic and Viktor Ivancic—were pushed out of the Rijeka daily Novi List after the newspaper’s new ownership, which was aligned with the ruling party, ordered that their articles no longer be published.
- Physical attacks against journalists decreased in 2009, but little progress was made in investigating the previous year’s murders and attacks on journalists. In separate probes, Croatian prosecutors indicted six and Serbian prosecutors indicted two individuals for the October 2008 killings of Ivo Pukanic, editor of Nacional, and his marketing director, Niko Franjic. The police in Croatia have yet to identify any suspects in a June 2008 attack on investigative journalist Dusan Miljus that left him with a concussion, a broken arm, and facial bruises. Miljus received a threatening letter in March 2009 after publishing allegations that business leaders and government officials were involved in illegal arms trafficking, according to local press reports. Both journalists were under police protection in 2009.
- In June, reporter Stjepan Mesaric of the weekly Medjimurske Novine in the northern city of Cakovec was repeatedly punched in the face after writing an article about corruption in the local construction industry. The police took no immediate action, although Mesaric continued to receive threats from the alleged assailant.
- The state-owned HRT dominates the television market and has suffered from allegations of government interference with its editorial independence. According to reports from editors and journalists at the broadcaster, television programs are openly censored to prevent critical reporting on societal problems. Moreover, although it violated the Law on Electronic Media, HRT in July aired a 50-minute speech by outgoing prime minister Ivo Sanader at his party’s convention. And in November, HRT executives suspended Ana Jelinic, editor of the news program Dossier, claiming that a report on alleged government corruption was too speculative.
- In addition to HRT, there are 20 privately owned television stations, including two—Nova TV and RTL—that reach the whole territory of Croatia. There were 146 radio stations in 2009, of which four cover the whole country. Public stations account for 21 of the total, while the other 125 are privately owned.
- In contrast to the broadcast sector, all newspapers are owned either by individuals or large corporations. Indeed, the acquisition of most Croatian newspapers by two media conglomerates, the partly German-owned Europa Press Holdings (EPH) and Austria’s Styria, has led to new fears about ownership concentration in private rather than public hands. Styria controls about 46 percent and EPH 43 percent of overall print-sector sales, although the Media Law states that no private owner should be allowed to control a market share of more than 40 percent.
- Slightly more than half the population had access to the internet in 2009.