The Press Law of 1870 - the first legislative work of its kind in the history of Serbia - was quite liberal for its time, establishing the legal framework of the media system and laying the foundations for its future development. In the coming years, new optimism spread through Serbia thanks to the young and educated elite who brought progressive ideas from the East and the West to the country.
After schooling in France and Germany, the Ribnikar brothers returned to Belgrade and in 1904 founded Politika, a daily newspaper, the oldest daily published to this day. At that time, Belgrade already had thirteen daily editions, but Vladislav and Darko Ribnikar introduced a refined and uniform style of writing and reporting on important domestic topics and international relations. Although the youngest, Politika soon became the most influential daily, especially among young intellectuals.
During this tumultuous period, another educated Serbian emigrant, Nikola Tesla, experimented with wireless energy transmission, which led to the discovery of commercial radio. The first radio station in Serbia was built for military use in 1915, during the First World War. Radio Belgrade, a station that is still part of the public service today, was founded in 1924 as a joint-stock company, and started to broadcast concerts, stock market reports and short news. The Radio Belgrade building was destroyed in the Nazi bombing of Belgrade in 1941. Occupation led Radio Zender Belgrade continued to broadcast the program using the equipment and frequency of Radio Belgrade.
After the Second World War, the Communist Party came to power and abolished private ownership of mass media, considering their belief that the right to communication belongs to the collective, not individual freedoms. The socialist media system in Yugoslavia was strongly decentralized and each republic had a separate media network, such as RTV Belgrade or RTV Zagreb. There were 214 local radio stations, as well as 20 local TV stations, 27 dailies and 60 local newspapers and more than 600 factory papers in social ownership. In the late 1970s and mid-1980s, Radio Television Belgrade (RTB) grew into a world-renowned media house that broadcast programs on several radio and TV channels, sold millions of records across the country, and developed its own production of original television and film programs.

With the impending dissolution of Yugoslavia, state television stations turned into national propaganda centers. By the Law on Electronic Media from 1991, the media houses in Novi Sad, Pristina and Belgrade were merged into a single national Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) under the firm control of Slobodan Milošević's regime. Without appropriate regulatory bodies and defined policies for frequency allocation, RTS had a monopoly in all domains, from technical to financial, personnel, and editorial issues. During this period of nationalization, the media became tied to political parties and divided into pro-regime and pro-opposition groups. It is estimated that around 1,200 radio and TV stations operated during that period. During the NATO bombing in 1999, RTV Priština and Novi Sad were hit by airstrikes. NATO bombs also hit the RTS main building in Belgrade, and 16 employees died in the attack.

After democratic changes in 2000, a complete transformation of the media system in Serbia remained absent, despite the establishment of a new legal framework. Adopted laws have still not been fully implemented, despite the fact that international bodies mandate their compliance, which is why there is still a lot of room for uncertainty and abuse of procedures. The currently low and decreasing level of media freedom and pluralism indicates that the media system in Serbia will likely remain in this transitory phase for some time.

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