Montenegrin legal framework defining media consists of three fundamental laws - Law on Media, Law on Electronic Media, and Law on National Public Broadcaster RTCG. The last changes in the legal framework occurred in July 2020 when new media and public broadcaster laws were adopted and amendments to the Electronic Media Law. However, after the change of the ruling majority in August 2020, the media community requested improvements in the media legislation, which is why the Government initiated comprehensive media reform, which should end in early 2024 with three brand new laws.
In addition, for the first time in its history, in October 2023, Montenegro got a Media Strategy, which envisages all reforms Montenegro must conduct in the media field for the upcoming five years.
The current context for the media environment is improved, compared to the previous period, primarily due to the establishment of the Media Diversity and Pluralism Fund, which should support commercial media in producing public interest content. Also, new legislation secured funding for the public broadcaster and introduced a solution where media are obliged to remove hate speech and other problematic content in accordance with international practice.
However, various problems still need to be solved. Financing of the local public broadcasters is not adequately regulated, media concentration is not effectively defined and prevented, and there is no audience or market measurement in place. In addition, existing laws need to ensure sufficient independence and quality in the composition of the regulatory bodies - Council of the Agency for Electronic Media, Council of the Public Broadcasters RTCG, and councils of the local public broadcasters.
In addition, media legislation needs to be aligned with the relevant European regulations, especially about audio-visual media services.
According to the law, the concept of regulation exists in relation to audio-visual media – TV and radio stations. In addition, audio-visual media are also allowed to have any sort of self-regulation – internal or collective. On the other hand, print and online media are not externally regulated. Application of professional standards is purely a matter of internal or collective self-regulation, which is not obligatory. Most influential print and online media in the country do have self-regulatory mechanisms. While Vijesti, Dan, and Monitor have their ombudspersons, Pobjeda, CDM, Portal Analitika, and Antena M are members of the Media Council for Self-Regulation as a collective body.
However, the European Union notes that the media environment remains highly politically polarised, with uneven application of the journalistic Code of Ethics and professional standards. Credible and effective self-regulation mechanisms have yet to be set up to strengthen media integrity and professionalism.