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29. 01. 2016






On January 29, 2016, the Association of Independent Electronic Media held in Belgrade the round table on the effects of the implementation of media laws since their adoption in August 2014.

The round table was aimed at gathering the representatives of media and journalists' associations, the academic community, civil society, competent authorities and other stakeholders, to map, in a mutual exchange of opinions, the effects of the application of media laws so far and propose guidelines and recommendations for changing the regulations, as well as the practice. The goal being to adequately fulfill the goals set in the Media Strategy from 2011.

The keynote speakers were Milorad Tadic, the President of ANEM; Attorney at Law Slobodan Kremenjak, an expert for media law and member of ANEM's legal team; Jovanka Matic, PhD, media expert; Professor Rade Veljanovski, PhD, media expert; and Milos Rajkovic, member of the Council of Regulatory body for electronic media (RBEM). The recommendations and guidelines were formulated and presented by Attorney at Law Milos Stojkovic, media law expert and member of ANEM's legal team.

The debate pointed to the following:

  • that the media community and professionals went back in a "reactive mode" in 2015 and that the struggle for media reforms has been reduced to reacting to adverse phenomena by press releases, without debating and proposing relevant solutions;
  • that the current problems in realizing the goals of the media policy haven't resulted only from the absence of adequate media regulations, but also from the economic environment the media operate in, opaque financing and the lack of genuine political will to implement the media reforms;
  • that the provisions on project co-financing (although there are examples of good practice, such as the competition of the Ministry of Culture and Media) come down to misusing the legal form of project co-financing in order to continue the practice of opaque financing of "political suitable" media;
  • that the provisions on media concentration focused on concentration of media ownership, while completely neglecting concentration of media content, which is key in the context of the realization of goals related to media pluralism and is standard in the European Union;
  • that the implementation of the provisions on transparency of media ownership did not achieve its purpose, since (on the basis of the data available in the Media Register) the citizens were not enabled to learn if they should trust a specific media outlet or not;
  • that the provisions of the Law, including those governing the position of holders of public office, failed to adequately regulate the position of the independent regulatory body (RBEM), starting from the manner of electing the members of the Council, independent source of financing, the application of regulations on civil servants on REM employees and the lack of adequate authority and measures available to this body;
  • that the financing of public service broadcasters (PSBs) is the weakest link of the media reform, that the subscription fee should not have been scrapped (not even temporarily) because it is very well-known from practice that it is very difficult to restore it afterwards, as well as that the PSBs have failed to promote the introduction of an independent manner to finance their activities;
  • that the implementation of the provisions on the transparency of the operations of PBSs comes down to holding public debates, the sole purpose of which is to formally fulfill statutory obligations, while there remains a gap in terms of the communication between the citizens and the PSB bodies, whereas the body that is supposed to be the link between the citizens and management bodies (Programming Council) is not independent and is not an element of external control, since it constitutes a part of the structure of PSB bodies;
  • that privatization has been very poorly executed, that the allocation of excessive funds based on project co-financing to certain privatized outlets deepens the suspicions that the new owners of these outlets managed to get hold of them with public money, in order to buy political influence;
  • that Tanjug (public company) continued its activities as a news agency, although its right to engage in media activities ceased on October 31, 2015, and now practically operates as a "pirate" media outlet.

At the end of the event, the recommendations for overcoming the identified concerns and gaps in media regulations and the practical implementation thereof were formulated.

To that end, the following needs were emphasized:

  • the reactivation of the media and academic community, civil society and the citizens and reopening of the communication channels with the competent authorities and the government, in order to find constructive solutions for fixing the backlog of problems in the media sector;
  • overcoming the problem of opaque financing of all public entities by prescribing rules that will regulate public advertising;
  • amending the rules on project co-financing so as to fulfill the goals of the latter - the realization of public interest in the area of public information;
  • amending the rules on media concentration so as to also include and regulate the concentration of media content;
  • enabling the genuine transparency of financial flows data in the Media Register, especially with respect to payment to the media by public entities, in order to allow the citizens to get a more reliable picture about the credibility of specific media outlets;
  • examining the position of independent regulatory bodies in the Serbian system so as to have them truly be independent regulators, as opposed to public administration bodies: they should enjoy genuine organizational, functional and financial independence, since independent regulators are the guarantee of media freedoms in the area of electronic media;
  • make sure the PSBs are true representatives of the interests of the citizens and not of those of political, economic and other elites;
  • review the privatization of media companies where there is a possibility to "buy" political influence", find out why the new owners failed to fulfil their financial obligations in terms of paying installments and submitting banking guarantees;
  • activate supervision mechanisms in order to establish how is it possible to have the public company Tanjug continue its activities as a media agency, although its right to engage in media activities ceased on October 31, 2015.

ANEM will release in public the conclusions and recommendations of this public debate and submit them to the competent ministries, offices, regulatory bodies and media and journalist associations, hoping that each of them will contribute to overcoming the aforementioned problems and continuing the reforms of the media sector, especially since it is necessary to formulate a new media policy after the expiration of the Media Strategy.


This round table is supported by the Swiss Cooperation Office Serbia, within the Small Projects Fund.
The views presented at the round table are the sole responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swiss Cooperation Office Serbia. 














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