Media capture is quite visible in all Western Balkan countries. Governments influence the media by regulating access to government news resources, advertisements and other forms of public financing to shape a favourable public opinion. They often abandon or abuse their regulatory role, causing media ownership concentration. Public broadcasters are in constant financial struggle, dependent on government funding, which puts them in a position of political subordination. Data about funds allocated for media advertising is scarce or missing. In many cases, managerial or key editorial positions are directly chosen or influenced by political representatives, leaving more room for influence.
One of the consequences of media capture is widespread disinformation, which threatens the consolidation of democracy in the region. Disinformation is an essential instrument for domestic and international players to achieve their political objectives and influence public opinion, such as Moscow’s campaign to maintain influence in the Western Balkans and damage NATO and EU enlargement. This has shown to be extremely effective in the case of pro-Russian disinformation regarding the war in Ukraine.