Pro-govt media make the biggest bucks

The media landscape in Serbia is dominated by commercial companies, and the most profitable are those operating national television networks and multimedia digital platforms. The same media are, as MOM research shows, owned by the persons close to the government and ruling party, and therefore, the most desirable partners for state advertising and other state subsidies.

Publicly available data on the revenues and profits of media companies, gathered from official financial reports that companies are required to submit to the Business Registers Agency, often do not fully disclose the actual revenues or losses of individual media outlets, as many companies operate multiple subsidiaries.

The most financially successful media conglomerate is Pink Media Group with revenues of 8.5 billion dinars (around $77 million) and profits of 2.2 billion dinars in 2022. Pink Media Group, as the parent company, encompasses dozens of television channels and digital platforms, as well as businesses unrelated to media. But data on the performance of individual media entities within the group, such as Pink Television or Pink Radio, are not publicly available.

Although Pink Media Group is the most profitable media corporation, its revenues lag behind those of the national public broadcaster, Radio Television of Serbia (RTS). Its revenues in 2022 are approximately 14 billion dinars, which, according to official documents, still fall short of its expenses. In 2022, the public broadcaster lost 6.9 million dinars.

The most profitable companies are those that started as print media but transformed themselves into multimedia systems with a focus on digital platforms, combining online portals, internet television and other services. These include Ringer Srbija and the Adria Media Group, which currently operates under the company Mondo Inc.

These two publishers, with similar origins and business models, both made a profit of around 1 billion dinars in 2022. They rank as the second and third most profitable companies in Serbia. Data for Mondo Inc., which includes media outlets like the Kurir tabloid newspaper and the online Mondo portal, includes the profits of Adria Media Group which it took over in August 2022. These two companies were previously separate entities with distinct accounting records registered with the Business Registers Agency, though they had the same ownership since late 2018.

Given that a licence for terrestrial broadcasting in Serbia remains a significant factor for generating higher revenues across various bases, other companies with such licences also have a strong income. For instance, Prva Television ranks third in terms of revenues (approximately 4 billion dinars) behind RTS and Pink Media, but has lower profits than Happy TV, another TV station with national terrestrial licence, which has half the revenues of its revenues, but higher profitability.

All of the companies listed above have owners with known political ties and affiliations, as MOM indicators show, and use their media platforms to promote the government, spread propaganda and often attack their political opponents.

Companies that operate media outlets with a critical approach towards the government tend to record somewhat worse financial results. Their editorial line makes them undesirable partners both from state and commercial advertising. State advertising is strictly controlled by the government and therefore inaccessible, while commercial advertisers tend to keep away due to reputational risk.  

For example, United Group owns United Media Digital, which publishes the portal and the daily newspaper Nova, and Dan Graf, the company behind the daily newspaper Danas and the portal These are among the biggest loss-making media companies. Dan Graf lost 131 million dinars in 2022, and United Media Digital 85 million.

Tenth in profit terms among media groups (26.9 million dinars in 2022) is United Media Production, the company behind TV Nova, a cable television network that provides more balanced reporting on the government. Just behind it is Adria News – Serbia, a subsidiary of a Luxembourg company, Adria News (no relation to the Adria Media Group) with profits of 26.4 million dinars in 2022. It runs TV N1.

Both of these companies are part of the United Group conglomerate.

Unfortunately, detailed information on the revenue structure of media companies in Serbia is not readily available from public sources, specifically from financial reports submitted to the Business Registers Agency. Media outlets and companies do not publish data on advertising revenues or their market share.

It is also unclear how much money the industry gets from the government, as there is no official centralised data that records this type of state spending. Some 1,8 billion dinars are allocated through grants for media projects, BIRN research shows, but money allocated for state advertising or contracts obtained through public procurement for media advertising services, are not publicly known.

The Law on Public Information and Media prescribes that all government institutions and public enterprises should provide information on public spending in the media sector to the Business Registers Agency. The agency is then supposed to make this information available in a publicly accessible Media Register on its website.

In practice, the Media Register only provides partial data on money given as grants, and both government institutions and state-owned enterprises rarely submit data to the agency showing how much they paid a particular media outlet for advertising or in the process of public procurement.

In some cases, information about revenues media outlets receive from the government and local authorities can be indirectly obtained by searching the websites of institutions that publish decisions on grants or using public procurement portals.

  • Project by
    Global Media Registry
    Funded by European Union