According to the Economic Freedom Index, Bosnia and Herzegovina has a score of 62.9, ranking 35th out of 44 European countries. The country has a convoluted and fragmented regulatory framework that hampers business freedom, and the economy has been adversely affected by the global economic slowdown.

The Central Bank of BiH estimates an overall inflation rate of 9.7% for the first six months of 2023. Despite declining inflation rates, economic activities have continued to slow. The country's foundations for economic freedom are fragile and inconsistent, with the government's transition to open market policies progressing slowly. The Economic Freedom Index indicates that inadequate protection of property rights and widespread corruption discourage entrepreneurial activities. However, natural resources provide opportunities for investment in the energy, agriculture, timber, and tourism sectors.

Market agencies estimate the total value of the advertising market (net investment) in BiH for 2022 at 40 million euros, indicating a slight increase compared to previous years. This amount remains low given the large number of media outlets, including 107 television stations, 157 radio stations, 7 news agencies, 8 dailies, and 181 various publications and magazines. Many media outlets are publicly funded, receiving subsidies and grants from cantons, towns, and municipalities. There are a total of 65 public radio and 15 public TV stations.

In addition to grants and subsidies, government institutions engage in commercial contracts with media outlets through public procurement of services, such as reporting on local assemblies and mayoral activities. This practice has raised concerns about potential political influence on media reporting, particularly at the local level. Non-transparent and arbitrary allocation of public funds, coupled with appointments of managerial staff in public media outlets, allows political interference in editorial affairs. Advertising also serves as a means of silencing the media, leading journalists to self-censor when reporting on companies that advertise in their outlets.

One study identified 615 informative online media outlets in BiH, of which only 27% have legal statements regarding ownership on their webpages. Recent years have seen a surge in the number of online content producers, including anonymous websites, influencers, and social media channels and groups, all competing for advertising shares.

Marketing agency data shows companies increasingly advertise their products and services on global digital platforms and regional television in Serbia and Croatia. While there’s no specific data on social media companies’ digital market share, it could be significant due to the popularity of social media. Foreign donors have been providing grants to media outlets, which is essential for sustaining professional journalism. However, these grants do not exceed 3-4 million euros, a small fraction when compared to the total funds from public budgets.

There has been no recent investigation on the overall public funding for media outlets, and the lack of transparency makes obtaining such information challenging.  In 2017, estimates suggested annual media financing from public budgets ranged between 30 million (15 million euros) to 100 million BAM (51 million euros). Most of these funds are allocated to public news agencies, public broadcasters, and occasionally public service broadcasters. Government interference in media funding also occurs through advertisements from public telecommunication companies. Open calls for media grants are rare, and most allocations are not proactively published.

Many media outlets in the country struggle to secure sufficient financial resources, hindering their sustainability and resilience. Few invest in new business models or income sources, often relying on a limited number of revenue streams. Initiatives such as crowdfunding and subscription models, which could diversify revenue streams, are rare in the media landscape.

  • Project by
    Global Media Registry
    Funded by European Union