Kosovo Sees ‘Alarming Decline’ in Media Freedom Ranking

Kosovo has scored an unprecedented decline in the media freedom index, as highlighted in the latest Reporters Without Borders report dropping for 19 places compared to the previous year.

Media organisations and journalists in Kosovo reacted on Friday as the Reporters Without Borders marked an unprecedented decline in the country’s press freedom index.

On World Press Freedom Day, the media watchdog organisation, Reporters Without Borders, RSF, published its Country Index ranking Kosovo 75 out of 180 places with a score of 60.19. The score sees Kosovo declining by 19 places compared to 2023 when it was ranked 56 with a score of 68. 38.

“It should be an alarm to those who have influenced in different forms to this decline. I am mainly referring to Kosovo institutions, especially the government,” Xhemajl Rexha, head of the Association of Journalists of Kosovo, AJK, stated.

In its report, RSF noted several issues media have faced last year including the attempted closure of Klan Kosova private broadcaster, the draft law for the Independent Media Commission, IMC, the appointment of an affiliate to the governing party to the position of public broadcaster, Radio Television of Kosovo, RTK,  director, and attacks on journalists.

Media lawyer Flutura Kusari, through a reaction on her social network Facebook, has described this ranking as alarming, adding that “we must be ashamed of these results”.

“Kosovo has been an example in the region. Media freedom has made us all proud as one of the greatest achievements in our country since the war. This year’s ranking in the RSF index is the most negative assessment Kosovo has received in the past decade”, Kusari wrote.

Meanwhile, in 2022, Kosovo was ranked 61 out of 180 places in RSF index.

Further, the report emphasises that online news portals include strong brands such as BIRN or Kosovo 2.0, with the latter being one of the few media outlets to publish both in Albanian and Serbian.

“Despite its small size and division along ethnic lines, Kosovo has a pluralistic and dynamic media market. The highly concentrated TV sector is dominated by private Prishtina-based channels, although the public broadcaster RTK plays an important role”, the report further states.

German Ambassador in Kosovo, Jorn Rohde also considered this ranking as alarming and stated that turnaround is needed.

“Media is often referred to as the 4th pillar of democracy & must be protected, not controlled. In Kosovo, the media has a good standing in regional comparison. However, the freshly published report by RSF  shows an alarming drop by 19 places since last year”, Rohde wrote on X.

According to the report, journalists have also been subjected to SLAPPs initiated by business groups and politicians.

“In practice, copyright law is not upheld, and access to information is threatened by a draconian bill on media regulation and by proceedings launched against a telecoms operator.”

The RSF report stated that attacks against journalists, despite being investigated by the police, rarely result in prosecutions.

“Attacks against journalists have increased at times of political tension between Prishtina and Belgrade.”

Journalists are often targets of insults and fake news on social media, the report emphasises further.

“They are unfairly accused of ‘collaborating with the enemy,’ rhetoric used by political and religious groups.”

Meanwhile, Serbian-language media, as the report states, “face the extra challenge of a small market in which some media depend on funding from neighbouring Serbia, while independent media would not survive without international funding”.

In comparison with its neighbours; Serbia, ranked 98,  is struggling with rampant fake news and propaganda, while Albania stands at 99, Montenegro at 40, North Macedonia at 36, and Bosnia and Herzegovina ranked at 81.

Source @Prishtina Insight: Read more : Kosovo Kosovo News