Who owns “our” print and online media

According to the research conducted by the Center for Democratic Transition (CDT), the majority of the most influential web portals in Montenegro already are, or are about to be, in the hands of foreign-based owners, and, soon enough, only one of the three Montenegrin dailies will be owned by a company from Montenegro.

Since the majority of televisions with national frequencies are either already or soon to be run by owners from abroad, it is becoming clear that the decisions concerning Montenegro’s most influential media will be made abroad.

Poor regulation and lack of interest exhibited by state institutions made room for influence of foreign capital and enabled foreign ownership over Montenegro’s online and print media, creating an atmosphere conducive to the spread of foreign political influence and disinformation.

Different individuals and movements are taking advantage of the fact that launching a web portal requires nothing more than putting up a website, which results in a rapid spread of unregistered media that openly impose their agenda on the public.

The Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media provided a list of 50 web portals registered in Montenegro, although many more are actually operating in Montenegrin media space.

The most influential web portals in Montenegro already are, or are about to be, in the hands of foreign-based owners. It is certain that only one of the three dailies published in Montenegro will be owned by a Montenegrin company.

Three influential web portals and one print media in Montenegro are backed by Greek capital, while a media group owned by a Serbian businessman is soon to take over Montenegro’s most prominent daily paper and web portal.

According to announcements from October last year, the Vijesti online portal, with more than half of Montenegrins as its regular readers, is soon to be owned by United Media, a Luxembourg-based company broadcasting more than 50 television channels.

United Media owns 28 web portals, eight newspapers and magazines and five radio stations and is part of the United Group, founded and co-owned by Serbian entrepreneur Dragan Solak, whom we have covered extensively in the first part of the research.

It is also known that Greek businessman Petros Stathis owns two Montenegrin web portals – Analitika and Cafe Del Montenegro (CDM), as well as the Pobjeda daily and its online edition. At one point, Statis was the owner of as many as five media that produce content in Montenegro.

The Borba portal is also foreign-owned as of recently, having been bought by Adria management services, a company owned by Serbian businessman Bratislav Stoiljkovic, who also owns TV Adria. Since the IN4S web portal is not registered, the data regarding its ownership structure are not available to the public.

Although some region-based media do not fall much behind the local internet publications when it comes to readership figures, they have started registering their web portals in Montenegro, as in the case of the recently registered Aloonline.me web portal, owned by Alo Media System from Belgrade, which also owns the Pogled.me web portal.

The research “Who owns “our” media?” is conducted as part of the project for monitoring foreign media influence in Montenegro.

Darvin Murić

Editor-in-chief of the Raskrinkavanje.me portal