The Draft of the Law on Electronic Media has entered the public debate on October16th at Studio M in Novi Sad. This Draft regulates organization and operation of the Regulatory body for the electronic media, defines the terms and procedures for issuing permits and other relevant matters to the field of electronic media. The representatives of the working groups and the Ministry of Culture and Public Information presented the Draft of the Law, and the participants had the opportunity to give their comments and suggestions.
The representative of the working group and the Head of the Department in the section of the Media at the Ministry Snezana Pečenčić presented the Draft of the Law. She said that the Draft Law on electronic media provides the transformation of the Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in the Regulatory Body for the Electronic Media and in detail defines the role, responsibilities and organization of the body. One part of this Law specifies the Parliament of the Republic of Serbia and the Parliament of Vojvodina as the nominators of the candidates for the Regulatory Body. They have the right to nominate three, while the representatives of the government sector will nominate other six candidates.
Numerous participants in the public hearing had remarks and comments about this part of the Draft of the Law. Vice President of The Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) Jelka Jovanovic objected to the introduction of a special member of this body for the territory of Kosovo and Metohija, because, according to her, there is no broadcaster in this territory that this law would apply to. She also added that, in her opinion, it is not necessary that all members of this body should be permanently employed. Not only would that cost the state a lot of money, but it would also not be motivating for the proffesionals with full time employment to accept this position.
– Why would a university professor give up his professorship for the sake being a member in this regulatory body? – Jovanovic asked.
UNS, NUNS and NDNV proposed alteration which would state that the nominators of candidates could be only the journalists’ association with more than 500 members, and not 300 as stated in the draft.
The legal representative of Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) Milos Stojkovic drew attention to the part in the Draft which states that the same rules will be applied for both the position of employees within this regulatory body and the position of the state employees, which will greatly affect the independence and objectivity of this body.
This Draft of the Law, among other things, provides the long-awaited withdrawal of the state from the media, since the broadcasting license can not be granted to a legal entity founded by the Republic of Serbia, Autonomous province of Vojvodina, or local government; except when it comes to public broadcasting media. One Article of this Law is dedicated to the local electronic media founded by local governments, which have not yet been privatized. This kind of media will until the privatization have to operate in accordance with the provisions of the Law which regulates services of public broadcasting media, but the details about the funding or deadlines by which they must be privatized are not specified. The local media representatives from Nis, Subotica, Becej, and Indjija had a number of objections to this provision. In their opinion, it is not a good solution and “fair game” for the state to spend 1.5 percent of the budget on the two public broadcasting media, while at the same time revoking the rights to budgetary financing of the local media. Cvetko Tadic radio-television of Indjija, proposes to make an alternative to privatization, in other words, not to make it obligatory. He wonders what will happen to the local media, founded by the local government if they are not privatized by the end of the 2016th when it is scheduled deadline .
There was a long discussion about failure to meet Media Strategy which defines the establishment of regional broadcasting media. Members of the coalition of media personnel have requested the withdrawal of the draft from the procedure and the re-establishment of working groups which would than have a larger number of media representatives.
Large part of the Law covers protection of pluralism in media, and thus clearly defines measures against concentration of media influence, such as the ban on the media service provider in the whole of the Republic of Serbia to have the share in the capital goods of another republic or provincial broadcasters.