The owners and directors of the media in Montenegro agree that the biggest consequences of pandemic crisis are of a financial nature, as well as the organization of work due to the absence of employees.
In the research “Socio-economic position of media workers in Montenegro“, published by the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro (SMCG) at the end of last year, a special part refers to interviews with employers and directors of Montenegrin media.
The research team sent a structured questionnaire with 11 questions to the addresses of all registered media in Montenegro. However, it turned out that media managers are not ready to answer questions concerning themselves, despite numerous requests and reminders.
The survey with media owners and directors was conducted in March and April 2021, and the questions were answered by: TV Nova M, RTV Corona, RTV Cetinje, RTV Budva, RTV Rozaje, Radio Tivat, Radio Berane, Radio Montenegro and Portal Analitika .
When it comes to the structure of employees, newsrooms are made up of 40 percent or more of women, and RTV Corona’s newsroom consists of 90 percent women. They point out that women are also in editorial positions. Radio Television Budva has only women in editorial positions, as do Portal Analitika and Radio and Portal Berane.
We also asked employers what are the biggest problems they have faced in the last two years, ie since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. They agree that the biggest consequences of the crisis are of a financial nature, as well as problems with the organization of work due to the absence of employees.
Radio Berane told us that the biggest problem since the appearance of the virus is the restrictions in the work of employees, because due to the use of the right to paid leave, there is a shortage of workers. However, the limitations are also reflected in the reduced interest in advertising content. They reveal that they did not hire or fire any journalists during 2020, and that they do not plan to do so in the future.
At Portal Analitika, as they told us, employees occasionally worked from home until November 2020, after which they returned to the newsroom. Their experience has shown that the performance and organization of the team are much better when working in the newsroom. They reveal that they hired two new workers in 2020, but that there were no layoffs caused by the crisis.
The biggest challenge during the pandemic for the Radio Montenegro newsroom, which has 96 employees and one part-time associate, was to save the newsroom from the virus. Therefore, they temporarily postponed the broadcasting of certain shows and organized work from home. They point out that there were no dismissals. “During the previous year, we hired two journalists for vacant positions, due to the retirement of fellow journalists. I hope that there will be no need for dismissal, because even now we have the need to hire new workers in order to fill the vacancies “, the management of the Radio told us.
Radio Tivat points out that the employees in that media worked from home for the portal during the pandemic, and that such a way of working proved to be good. They point out that there were problems in the organization of work, due to the illness of the members of the editorial office, but that this did not affect their reporting. Two employees left the media and hired one journalist indefinitely. There were no dismissals. “There will be no layoffs. We operate very rationally. Last year, we operated with a profit of 18 thousand euros. We receive salaries until the 7th of the month. We have no debts, neither to the state, nor to suppliers. We are very proud of the work and business of Radio Tivat “, they told us in that media.
RTV Budva points out that, due to the pandemic, they are facing justified absences of employees and are not able to record new shows due to respect for epidemiological measures. Some of the employees in that medium worked from home, which, as they say, did not affect the quality of work much. There were no layoffs or hiring of new people in that media, and they do not expect that the number of employees will be reduced in the future.
Corona Radio and Television point out that the pandemic has left financial consequences. Due to the nature of the work, employees in that medium (one full-time employee and five part-time associates) worked from the newsroom, or reported from the field. They hired two journalists in that medium, and they did not have any layoffs. They add that they do not plan to lay off “but if this financial situation continues, they will be forced to lay off a couple of workers”.
The local public broadcaster, Radio Television Rozaje also felt the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. They point out that during and after the pandemic, their marketing opportunities are limited, as well as that their budget funds are limited. They add that working from home has influenced the reduction of the production of that medium. This media outlet employed three workers, while two of them were fired.
The small number of employees, especially cameramen, one camera at their disposal and the lack of an editorial vehicle are part of the problems of the Radio Television Cetinje editorial office. But these, they reveal, are problems that existed before the crisis. Employees in that medium worked from home only when they were infected with the Covid-19 virus or while they were in isolation. Also, on several occasions, the working hours of Radio Cetinje were adjusted, but this only partially reflected on the results of the work. During the previous year, they hired one journalist, and there were no layoffs. “There will be no dismissals in RTV Cetinje, and we still do not know how and when we will solve the financial problems, which date back a long time and have nothing to do with the Covid crisis, given the fact that due to bad relations with the founder, we have not signed Agreement on mutual rights and obligations for the next three years “, they state in the letter for SMCG.
According to TV Nova M, the main problem facing commercial TV broadcasters is insufficient state aid to the media. “Both the previous and the current government did not help us enough, they did not subsidize our salaries, they did not put us on the list of endangered activities, except for a few months last year,” the management told us.
The director of TV Nova M, Ivana Sebek, pointed out that commercial broadcasters would be most helped by exemption from duties to the Broadcasting Center, the Electronic Media Agency, PAM and the Film Center “at least for a year, so that we are approximately equal to the players on market registered in other countries, which do not operate under Montenegrin legislation (Pink M). ”
She adds that it is necessary for employers to receive subsidies on employees’ salaries, as an endangered activity, because they are forced to lay off employees in order to operate with as few “inevitable” losses as possible.
“That is because we want to keep employees, not to send them at the expense of the state, but we are financially exhausted and have no choice. We want to save jobs for Montenegrin citizens”, Sebek said. The media point out that they hired one journalist during the Covid-19 pandemic, but that they also fired, without specifying the number of those fired. They add that the layoffs will continue, especially if there is no help from the state.