Flash Report: Macedonia

Flash Report: Macedonia
The coverage of local elections in 2013 clearly showed the way in which the political influence reflected on the reporting by the public broadcaster.

Public Service News Programs Favour the Ruling Party in the Election Campaign.

The normative transformation of the Macedonian Radio Television from a state into a public service started with the first Law on Broadcasting Activity from 1997 and entirely finished with the new regulation of 2005. However, the real institutional and programmatic transformation of MRTV was a demanding and a difficult process which has not been completed until now. Actually, the reasons for this are complex and lie in the problems of the entire post-communist transformation of the political system. Normatively, as in many other countries, the European democratic model in broadcasting was “transplanted” in Macedonia, while patterns of behavior that were the result of the social consciousness and political culture inherited from the old system functioned in reality.

Foto credits: Tomislav Georgiev, Photographer.

No government in recent years has been ready to give up its influence in MRTV, either by covert or open targeting of the work of the leadership structures or by financial pressure. The model of management and oversight in MRT defined in the 2005 Law was redesigned in order to ensure its independence from the legislative and executive power. However, no major changes occurred de facto. Almost all executive directors in MRTV in the period after 2005 were people close to one or another authority, who did not make some important progress in the transformation of MRTV, as a public service. (1)

A second form of pressure in the MRTV for many years was its financial instability, due to the unsuccessful functioning of the system for collection of the broadcasting tax. Funds were allocated from the budget annually to maintain the minimal operation of MRTV, but it made the public broadcaster totally dependent on the budget. In the last two years (2011 and 2012), the collection of the tax began to raise and MRTV began strengthening and stabilizing in financial and technological terms. But, the program still does not satisfy the functions of public service and has not gained the confidence of the public, in particular in terms of its key feature –the informing. "The news and current affairs programs were under the influence of the political structures of power for many years, so the confidence of the public in their independence and impartiality, was almost entirely lost. " (2)

The situation has not changed in 2013. The coverage of local elections in 2013 clearly showed the way in which the political influence reflected on the reporting by the public broadcaster.

What was most specific for the prime time news of the first channel of the Macedonian Television was the enormous number of news items in which the ministers promoted the results of the government’s work and announced investments, infrastructural buildings, investments in industrial zones and a range of other projects. In the last ten days of the campaign the informative function of the public broadcaster was almost entirely obedient to the ruling party. (3)

The public broadcaster has highest responsibility to provide a balance and openness for different political ideas and viewpoints, especially in a period of elections. It should be an example for professional values, quality and impartiality in the reporting. But the manner in which the election campaign was covered by MTV 1 has shown that there was no editorial independency and that all forms of framing that construct the public TV in a state, and not a public one have been used. The opening of the prime time news with TV footages of investment’s promotions, subsidies, infrastructural buildings or other projects by the Government, the illustration of the news items with assessments for the number and the quality of the projects of the ruling party’s candidates, the selective allocation of a space for direct speeches, the euphoric and biased manner of asking questions in the interviews with the candidates of the ruling party – evidenced how the public television in its prime time news almost entirely put its capacity in a submissive role to the ruling party.

The public service during these elections showed that the transformation cannot be reduced to production-technological innovations and to a better internal organization of the newsroom. Without a critical upturn in the professional identity of the managerial, journalistic and the editorial personnel, MTV will not be able to strive towards achieving professional standards of a genuine public service. In these elections, MTV showed that it lacks the key characteristics which should possess the news of any public service – impartiality, which lays at the core of its commitment towards the public, and not towards the government in general terms. MTV has put the focus of the coverage during these elections (as many times before) on the activities of the executive power. The fundamental principle of the journalistic profession was forgotten – distance from the government and the politicians, not allowing to be used for campaign purposes.


Analysis of the public broadcasting in the Republic of Macedonia in the context of the European media policy (p.5), Macedonian Institute for Media, Skopje, 2010.

 Ibid. (p.4)

 „Howdoes themediaconstruct their political bias: Analysis of framing – qualitative aspects of media coverage  on 2013 local elections campaign, School of Journalism and Public Relations, Skopje, 2013.


Photos are taken from the local elections in Macedonia 2013. On the photos are: the actual mayor (and in the same time candidate for mayor on the elections) of Skopje - Koce Trajanovski, the mayor of municipality Centar - Vladimir Todorovic (also candidate for mayor of Centar) and the Prime minister Nikola Gruevski - they were running all together the campaign for local elections with the main slogan of the rulling parti VMRO-DPMNE "Choose Achievements".

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