During the 1992-1995 war, numerous local radio stations were established for war propaganda purposes in BiH, and many TV and radio broadcasters continued to disseminate hatred even after the war ended. To curb war-mongering rhetoric and hate speech, as well as to regulate the broadcasting sector, the Independent Media Commission was established in 1998 by the High Representative in BiH. In 2001, its competencies were merged with the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency, forming the Communications Regulatory Agency of BiH, which oversees both broadcasters and telecommunications.
The Communications Regulatory Agency of BiH has adopted a series of rules and repeatedly amended codes on program and commercial content that broadcasters must adhere to. However, the agency has been criticized in recent years for its inaction against violations of its codes and for its affiliations with political parties.
In 2001, journalist associations established the self-regulatory Press and Online Media Council, initially at the entity level in the Federation of BiH and later, in 2006, at the national level. The council serves as a mediator between dissatisfied readers and print and online media organizations, but its impact is limited, especially as it lacks the authority to impose fines. The Press Code, adopted by journalist associations in 1999, was last amended at the end of 2021 to address new challenges in the digital environment.
Despite the weak advertising market, the number of broadcasters in the country has not decreased, nor have there been substantial shifts in ownership and concentration. Over the years, only a few media outlets, such as Slobodna Bosna and Dani (print media), eFM student radio, and Radio 202, have been shut down.
In the meantime, numerous online media outlets have emerged, with an estimated over 600 news media platforms now existing online. Newly established media outlets in other sectors are rare, but notable examples include N1 (owned by United Group), the private News Agency Patria, and RTV Herceg-Bosna, which is funded by municipalities and cantons with Croat majorities. The community media sector has remained underdeveloped, with only three community radio stations in operation.
Media ownership in BiH has largely been in the hands of local actors affiliated with local political parties. There are also international investors and owners of international media branches, such as Al Jazeera Balkans (indirectly owned by the Government of Qatar), Anadolu news agency (a subsidiary of the state-run news agency of Turkey), and Radio Free Europe (funded by the US government).
Razvoj profesionalnog novinarstva u Bosni i Hrecegovini (Development of professional journalism in Bosnia and Herzegovina), Amila Grbo, CCU, 2021.
Accessed in October 2023
Odluka o spajanju nadleznosti Nezavisne komisije za medije i Regulatorne agencije za telekomunikacije (Decision on merging the competences of the Independent Media Commission and the Telecommunications Regulatory Agency), Office of the High Representative Accessed in October 2023
Press And Online Media Code Of BiH, Press and online media council Accessed in October 2023
Sustainability of professional journalism in the media business environment of the Western Balkans, National data overview: Bosnia and Herzegovina, EU TACSO, 2020 Accessed in October 2023