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09. 11. 2010

Workshop for ANEM members “Public Information Law in practice”

 This activity was supported by the Civil Rights Defenders 



For the electronic media, the Public Information Law, beside the Broadcasting Law, represents the basic legal framework for their work. However, the practice has shown that for them, the implementation of this Law is not that simple, due to some unclear provisions as well as uneven court practice in the proceedings regarding the implementation of this law. In August last year, the controversial Law on Amendments to the Public Information Law was also brought, in spite of the strong reluctance of the media sector. This Law has caused additional sense of insecurity among journalists and media, while at the same time contributing to the increase of self-censorship due to extremely restrictive and unconstitutional provisions, excessive punishments in particular. The Constitutional Court declared the majority of this Law's provisions unconstitutional in July this year.  The dilemma was created among media professionals if these provisions were still valid, since the Court's decision has not yet been published in the Official Gazette of Republic Serbia. For that reason, ANEM organized for its members the workshop titled "Public Information Law in practice", which was held in Belgrade, on November 9, 2010, with the support of the Civil Rights Defenders. The aim of the workshop was to enable the journalists and editors of ANEM stations to understand which provisions of the Public Information Law were applicable and to get necessary explanation of both the provisions and the rights and obligations related to them, provided by the Law, in order to apply them with as little problems as possible and in favor of better quality of informing citizens.

The panelists of the workshop were: Slobodan Kremenjak, attorney at law, ANEM Legal Department; Dragan Lazarevic, Local Press attorney at law and Vesna Dabic, expert, member of the Working Group for amending the Broadcasting Law and former spokesperson for the Supreme Court, current spokesperson for the Administrative Court. Fifteen representatives of twelve ANEM radio and TV stations participated in the workshop: Timocka TV and radio (Zajecar), Novosadska TV (Novi Sad), Radio Far (Alibunar), RTK (Kragujevac), Radio Bus (Kovin), TV Gradska (Nis), Sremska TV (Sid), Radio Kikinda, RTV Krusevac, TV Sumadija (Arandjelovac), TV Smederevo, Radio Paracin, as well as the representative of the Civil Rights Defenders.

The workshop was designed as an open discussion of the panelists and participants. Apart from the clarification of some particular provisions of the Law and advices on how they were applied, the participants could hear numerous examples from practice and receive answers to their questions.

The representatives of ANEM stations had an opportunity to obtain expert information by competent speakers if the provisions of the Law on Amendments to the Public Information Law were still valid although the Constitutional Court declared them unconstitutional; what the obligation to respect the presumption of innocence really meant; what the protection of minors implied; how to report on court proceedings; how were the provisions related to disclosure of private facts and personal records applied; what were the responsibilities of the media in regard to respecting the right to a response and the right to a correction; what were the examples of court practice in media cases; which rules were applied on publishing new media content and so on.

After the workshop, the journalists - participants agreed that, due to the importance of the Public Information Law for their everyday work, this workshop would help them in their future work, since the provisions and their implementation were clearer to them after this event, as well as rights and obligations ensuing from this Law.

The entire report with conclusions and instructions for broadcasters

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