Market View

Croatian Media Landscape

2012/1/24 Tuesday
Mirna Juric, Key Account Manager, Madison Consulting
MirnaIRNA JURIĆ, key account manager voditeljica ključnih klijenata I am writing this article very close to the parliamentary elections. Based on a series of polls, all media in the country unanimously predict that the big victory goes to the left coalition led by socialdemocrats. The conservative government, that led the country for two mandates, has been involved in series of scandals mostly disclosed by the media.

Things in the media are really different here comparing to twenty years ago.

croatia map Prior to the democratization of Croatia in the 1990s, during half a century of communism, journalists should have been on tiptoe with any criticism to the government. Now they can do whatever they consider is right. At those times, all major newspapers and electronic media were state-owned and controlled by the authorities. Now they are privatized and free to unnerve the political power.

Croatian media landscape is largely dominated by TV as a main source of information. Since cable networks enter the market slowly, most people stick to six national programs. The result is that the majority of people still consume same information from same sources and that national TVs are key to distributing information to wide audience. During the last two years, the audience share dominance of the only state-owned public broadcaster Croatian Radio-Television has been for the first time threatened by two private TV houses, one owned by Central European Media Enterprise (CEME) and other by Radio and Television Luxemburg (RTL).

Newspapers in Croatia are also largely owned by two mostly foreign media conglomerates: the partly German-owned Europa Press Holding (EPH) controlling approximately 43%, and Austrian Styria controlling 46% of the market of 4.3 million residents. The consequence is that the advertising money has a significant influence on the content. Print media, although declining in circulation, still have big impact among opinion makers, especially the two most influential dailies, Jutarnji list and Vecernji list, both published in Zagreb, the capital of the country. Print media prefer interviews done in person as opposed to via the e-mail, and since the Law allows it the interviews are very often authorised by PR professionals.

Like in democracies all over the world, the old media are strongly challenged by Internet platforms. Two thirds of 2.5 million Internet users in Croatia are on social networks, mostly on Facebook and Twitter. Due to the high penetration of social media, all PR clients want to use advantages of Facebook or Twitter although many of them do not know what is realistic to expect from social media, what benefits they can exactly bring and how to meassure the results.

PR in Croatia is a young but quickly growing industry. Majority of PR proffesionals are former journalists or from other backgrounds, since the first PR university course is launched only eight years ago. More than half of PR professionals work for corporations, 20% for state or local governments, 10% for PR agencies and a very small number for institutions in culture, education and NGOs. Corporations along with in house PR departments engage PR agencies as invest the most in communication, as opposed to the public institutions that invest very little in communication.

PR is not a highly respected job in Croatia, and the whole profession is trying to avoid term public relations and prefers using "communication consultants" or similar. It is because in the short 20 years history of PR in Croatia all kinds of activities were called PR and we have seen enough examples of unsatisfactory and unethical approaches. However, in recent years the profession is changing for the better due to the rising quality of university programs and effort of the professional associations and many collegues.