“Comparative Report: Media and democracy in Eastern Europe”, in Media Freedom and independence in 14 European countries: A comparative perspective, MEDIADEM

The aim of the MEDIADEM research project has been to identify those policy processes and instruments that can best promote media freedom and independence of the media. 
It included the following countries Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the UK.
This reports address five issues: freedom and independence of public service media; the relationship between politics and the media in five Eastern European countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia; trends and policy approaches pertaining to new media services; the professional autonomy in journalism as a factor for safeguarding freedom of expression and the role of the European courts in shaping media policies. In the part of the report linked to media and democracy in Eastern Europe, the media system in Croatia is claimed to bare some similarities to that of Bulgaria.
The specific case of Croatia shows that, in the first decade of transition, political interference on the media was dominant, while at present, corporate and private pressures have growth in strength. The main instrument of state influence are the regulatory bodies of electronic media (The Electronic Media Agency/Electronic Media Council;) and the one focusing on media markets (The Croatian Post and Electronic Communications Agency ; Council for Market Competition Protection; Croatian Chamber of Economy). EU has influenced the media system to a large extent in a twofold way: through pressures towards implementing legal provisions in accordance with the EU legislation and through pressures toward liberalization of the market. The PSB audience is diminishing, however state aid for radio and television broadcasting has increased (from 2007 to 2009). In 2010 the State Audit Office determined some irregularities in the financial management of the PSB HRT. State interference in public and private media is inconsistent and there has been no sustained effort to enhance pluralism. Competition law targets prohibited agreements, joint price increases and the misuse of dominant market position. It has not been modified for the purpose of acknowledging the specificities of the media market. They conclude that the media are not quite established as (independent) institutions and their performance and responsibilities are blurred. This has repercussions on the performance and professional position of journalists.