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Distribution of the written media is still embryonic leaving a lot of space for the more influential broadcast media. The leading channel Radio Television Kosovar (RTK) continues to expand under the direct influence of the government. Its funding depends on the goodwill of parliament, which is unlikely to want to deprive itself of the leverage that comes with this situation. The contracts of station directors have not been renewed after expiring three years ago, so the former management remains in place but without any standing and at the mercy of government pressure. If it can manage to stabilise its investments, the growing influence of privately owned KTV could soon counterbalance that of RTK.
Access to information and to public data remains difficult and has still not been guaranteed under law. The basis of written media self-regulation has been established with the creation of the Press Council of Kosovo. The regulatory body is made up of journalists and editors and can impose a right of reply or fines on journalists who breach the code of conduct and media ethics. But like the Media Commission, the Press Council is under government sway.
There are eight national dailies in the privately owned sector, but some of them are linked to political parties or financial groups that develop in their sphere of influence. In the absence of foreign investment in the sector, these groups regularly practice “blackmail through advertising”, in which they exchange their financial backing for advantageous media coverage. The independence of editorial lines suffers hugely from this lack of financial independence. Self-censorship that undermines part of the profession is moreover aggravated by the absence of any real social status for journalists.
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