After the privatisation of the state-owned publishing houses (12) in 1995, the period of transition saw the appearance of many new publishers. The number of entities registered for publishing activities reached 250-300. The financial resources that were allocated for publishing increased both in the official language and in the languages of the minorities: Albanian, Turkish, Vlach etc.
Government support is accomplished through the traditional forms of annual open competitions for financing of publishing projects. The Ministry of Culture continually allocates financial resources for the stimulation of literary creative work. These resources are intended to support authors (paying authors’ fees, literary awards) and publishers (preparation and printing expenses).
In the period 2008-2015, the Ministry of Culture and the former government supported publishing hundreds of thousands of books in several so called capital editions (“Macedonian literature through the centuries”, with 130 volumes, that cost 24 million MKD / 400 000 EUR; “100 Nobel prize winners in the Macedonian language”, which cost approximately 500 000 EUR; “The stars of world literature”; “130 volumes of Macedonian literature in the English language”, etc.). However, the new Government (2017) discovered that the funds were spent while the books stayed in the basements of several cultural institutions and never reached the potential users (libraries, school, universities, etc.).
Table 8: Published books and press (2017-2019)
|Press (newspapers and magazines)||29||25||27|
Source: State Statistics Office, Mak Stat 2020
One of the most relevant issues throughout the last decade was media freedom, freedom of speech and decriminalisation of slander. According to the Ministry of Justice, 296 journalists were accused and prosecuted in the period 2014-2017 for slandering government officials or other holders of public office. Most of them were cancelled but 9 journalists were convicted and had to pay fines of 5-32 000 EUR (in each case). At the same time, some of the so called pro-government media accused several journalists of giving negative information to “Freedom House” about the media situation in the country.
According to the Reporters without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, in 2013 Macedonia was ranked in 116th place out of 176 countries, a drop of 22 positions compared to the previous year. According to Reporters without Borders, the reasons for the deterioration of media freedom in Macedonia lies in judicial harassment based on often inappropriate legislation, the lack of access to public data, physical and psychological violence against those who work in news and information, official and private advertising markets used as a tool, and the grey economy’s hold over vital parts of the media. Macedonia was positioned on 109th place on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index. It was a slight improvement and the Rapporteur explained that “The fall of the Gruevski “regime” has led to a slight reduction in government control of the media but it is still too soon to be sure of the government’s intention to engineer a lasting improvement in the situation” (https://rsf.org/en/republic-macedonia). There has been no significant change in the economic situation of journalists, who are usually poorly paid and have no, or little, job security.