Television is the most popular media form in Serbia. According to the dana of IPSOS, over 6.1 million people in Serbia rely on television for their news. In 2018, there were 222 television broadcasters registered with the Media Registry of the Agency for Business Registries.
Nevertheless, such a large number of television channels can only count on relatively modest revenues from advertising (the estimated value of the television advertising market in Serbia during 2018 was €108.4 million), while fees paid to the state for issuing licences, as well as for copyright, are very high. All of this undermines the television sector’s financial stability, encouraging broadcasters to offer cheap entertainment content instead of high quality informational content. Consequently, reality shows have become very popular in Serbia. For example, TV Pink and TV Happy, both of which have national frequencies, have hours of reality programming which constantly break ethical codes, as they constantly show promiscuous sex, violence and hate speech. REM has, until now, not punished broadcasters for such content.
National television broadcasters work amidst fierce competition, as citizens have at their disposal – via cable and other operators – a large number of foreign channels, thematic channels and OTT platforms (Netflix, HBO, Pick box, RTS Planeta, etc.). Data from RATEL for 2017 shows that there were 1.7 million users of such types of media content distributors. Around 962,000 subscribers used content distribution within a package of services, most often together with broadband internet access and/or landline telephone services. The prices of these packages start from around €20 upwards, depending on the speed of the internet and number of channels offered.
The digitalization of television in Serbia was completed in the summer of 2015, almost 10 years after it began. Citizens were offered a wide range of television channels with a clear picture (HD), high quality sound and series of other services, such as subtitles, delayed viewing and electronic purchasing. This topic has been a subject of debate in Serbia since 2006, when an agreement was signed in Geneva and the government committed itself to implementing the transition to digital broadcasting. The process lasted nine years, with Serbia being one of the last remaining countries in Europe with an analogue signal due to a lack of available frequencies, legislative issues and limited available finance.
Research by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) carried out towards the end of 2018 showed that Serbia was one of four countries in Europe in which less than half the public trusted the media. Serbian citizens trust the printed press least, while trusting television and online media most.