Media in Serbia are primarily in the hands of private owners and companies, although the state still has a significant stake in the ownership structure of some media, such as the daily newspapers Politika and Večernje Novosti. The main characteristic of media ownership in Serbia is that on paper everything often looks rather simple and clear, but in practice this is often not the case.
In a small number of printed media, the owners are journalists themselves (such as the Danas daily or the weekly Vreme) while other media are typically owned by business people or media companies. In the printed media market two groups dominate – Ringier Axel Springer, whose portfolio includes the daily Blic, weekly NIN and various other lifestyle publications, and Igor Žeželj, the new owner of Adria Media Group which, among other things, publishes the daily Kurir. These two media houses also own some of the most visited websites such as blic.rs, kuris.rs and espreso.rs.
In the electronic media sphere, the concentration of ownership is higher than in other segments of the media scene. In this part of the media, the presence of telecommunication operators is visible – former Antena Group (the owner of O2 and Prva television stations) is now owned by cable operator Kopernikus, while N1 TV is owned by United Group, the biggest provider of telecommunication services in the region. State telecommunication operator Telekom Srbija cooperates with Pink Media Group and public broadcaster RTS through joint co-production of programs.
Three companies – S Media Team, Maxim Media and the public broadcaster account for around 40% of radio listenership. When it comes to online media, most influential websites are owned by companies which already possess other types of media.
Although most media are privately owned, the ruling party has enormous influence over the media – via control of advertising, directing state funds, or direct influence over owners. The ultimate effect of this is that, although private ownership is diverse, editorial policies often have the same direction, news programs frequently resemble each other, while there is a noticeable lack of criticism of those in power.