The polarised political climate, marked by constant verbal attacks and nationalist rhetoric, has created a hostile environment for press freedom, the report says.
Editorial policies reflecting ethnic divisions and hate speech are ever more evident. Journalists are attacked for their ethnic origins as well as what they write. Defamation suits by politicians often serve to intimidate journalists and deter them from pursuing their work.
Media ownership concentration is a source of concern, especially as ownership is not transparent. Employment conditions for journalists are precarious: they are hired on short contracts and are paid little. Reporting was recently obstructed in the city of Banja Luka in connection with protests over the unexplained death of a young man, David Dragičević, which have continued for months. The authorities have been restricting both the freedom to demonstrate and coverage of the demonstrations.
According to the report, Croatia occupies the 64th place, Serbia is 90th and Montenegro is the worst 104th in the overall state rankings. Slovenia is the most advanced of the former Yugoslav countries and is ranked 34th, while Northern Macedonia is 95th.