“In 2016, the government has used all of the government’s available instruments to limit the freedom of speech and to control the media. It is awarding the docile media with public assets while the critical journalists are constantly attacked and are exposed to various types of pressure said Naser Selmani, the president of the Association of Journalists in Macedonia (AJM).

AJM’s president presented numbers for spending assets from the budget on media.

-Last year, the ministries and municipalities in Macedonia have spent around one and a half million of euros on printed and internet media including regional and local media. Around 400.000 euros were spent in the first half of last year while more than one million of euros were planned to be spent in the second half. Also, out of 80 municipalities, only 42 have provided information about planned assets for spending in the second half of 2016 – said Selmani.

A record – breaker is the Ministry of information society and administration which has spent around 700.000 euros.

The second half of the assets of the ministries and municipalities are spent on advertising and newspaper subscriptions. The municipalities that have paid most assets on these activities were the municipalities of Bitola and Gostivar with around 60.000 euros i.e. 50.000 euros annually.

The ministries that have paid the least assets on newspaper subscriptions was the Ministry of Interior that in 2016 for that purpose has paid more than 50.000 euros.

Selmani said that in the last four years more than 40 journalists were attacked. Around half of the attacks have occurred in 2016, and most of the incidents remain as unsolved and none of the attackers were punished.

-The only bright light in this report is the improvement of the judicial practice of filing a lawsuit for a libel of character against the journalists. Unlike 2012, when there were more than 320 lawsuits for a libel against journalists, last year that number was 50 – said Selmani.