22. 12. 2011
Workshop for ANEM members
On December 22, 2011, ANEM held a workshop for its members in NUNS premises in Belgrade. Three main topics discussed at this workshop were: Implementation of the Advertising Law - with special reference to the rules on political advertising; Media Strategy and changes in the process of digitalization; the application of the Law on Copyright and Related Rights - tariffs of collective organizations and lists of broadcast musical works and phonograms. The workshop panelists included Slobodan Kremenjak, ANEM lawyer, Sasa Mirkovic, ANEM President and Ksenija Golubovic-Filipovic, attorney at law at the law office "Zivkovic & Samardzic".
The workshop was attended by 15 representatives of 12 ANEM stations: Radio City, Nis; Radio Paracin, Paracin; Radio Kikinda, Kikinda; Radio Far, Alibunar; Radio Em, Knjazevac; Radio Pozega, Pozega; RTV OK, Kovacica; RTK, Kragujevac; RTV Kladovo, Kladovo; RTV Sumadija, Arandjelovac; RTV Krusevac, Krusevac and Timocka television and radio from Zajecar. The aim of this workshop was to enable representatives of ANEM stations to clarify dilemmas in application of two laws (Advertising Law - particularly the provisions of the rules on political advertising and the Law on Copyright and Related Rights), as well as to get acquainted with the solutions of the recently adopted Media Strategy and changes in the digitalization process, of relevance to broadcasters. This workshop was an opportunity for exchanging opinions and discussing other issues and problems that ANEM stations are facing.
Attorney at law Ksenija Golubovic-Filipovic elaborated on the general provisions related to advertising, with emphasis on the rules on political advertising. She also gave instructions and advices to broadcasters how to correctly apply the said rules in the pre-election campaign. She presented legal framework regulating the issue of advertising of political parties - the Advertising Law, Law on Election of Members of Parliament, Broadcasting Law and general binding instructions on the conduct of broadcasters (Code of Conduct for Broadcasters), general binding instructions, brought before each election, to radio and TV stations (broadcasters) for their conduct during the pre-election campaign. She explained the meaning of specific provisions of these laws and the rights and obligations for broadcasters deriving from them. The following issues were specifically addressed in the discussion: advertising of state bodies and organizations; sponsorship in the context of political advertising; advertizing of political organizations; rules on presenting of political parties; respecting election silence; prohibition of covert propaganda; the rules related to publishing results of public opinion polls etc. She pointed to the distinction between the obligations of commercial broadcasters and those for the broadcasters - public companies, which are obliged to follow the rules related to public broadcasting services. She particularly emphasized that, much like prior to every election, the RBA would pass General binding instructions for radio and TV stations (broadcasters) for conduct during the pre-election campaign and publish them on its website. Broadcasters must adhere to the said Instructions, in addition to the above said rules.
The second topic was related to the recently adopted Media Strategy and changes in the process of digitalization. Regarding the Media Strategy, Sasa Mirkovic, ANEM President, elaborated on the issue of state's withdrawal from the media, the solution to form regional public broadcasting services, that is, the effect it would have on the functioning of the media sector and problematic aspects of such solution (unknown model of financing of such public services, selection of media outlets that would get the status of regional public services, lack of mechanisms for achieving the independence of the editorial policy of these services etc.), as well as the allocation of budget funds and methods of control of the state aid. Mirkovic said that the Government's recent actions indicated that the implementation of the Media Strategy was experiencing some problems. The first one is the proposed budget for 2012, which includes the decision on allocation of 368 million dinars directly to the media - budget users, primarily News Agency Tanjug. This questions the willingness of the authorities to respect the Strategy's solutions, stipulating that funds intended for the media shall be distributed through project financing and in accordance with the public interest. The second one is the Draft Law on Cinematography, which, contrary to the Strategy, creates an additional law collision, which could seriously affect the functioning of regulatory bodies, the media and the whole electronic communications sector. Speaking about the process of digitalization, attorney at law Slobodan Kremenjak said that a public debate on the Strategy and changes on Rulebook on the transition from analogue to digital broadcasting of television signal had been launched on the very day of the workshop and that it would last until January 5, 2012. He briefed the participants on the proposed changes in process, specifically noting that the deadline for implementation of digitalization was postponed until further notice; that the idea of switch-off in one day, which was imposed due to the lack of frequencies, had been replaced by the idea of the ‘phased' implementation of digitalization, which was now possible as certain frequencies were made available due to a shutdown of a number of broadcasters; that launching of a pilot test network had been announced. Stations were also informed about benefits, obligations and costs they could expect in this process, and advised to postpone the procurement of equipment, given that the process had been delayed.
The third topic of the workshop was related to the implementation of the Law on Copyright and Related Rights, with special reference to the tariffs of collective organizations and lists of broadcast musical works and phonograms. Here, the way of determining tariffs of collective organizations were discussed and stations were informed about the activities of ANEM as the representative association of broadcasters participating in the negotiations on tariff of collective organizations, as well as about the progress in these proceedings. Determining of the unique tariff of OFPS and PI is pending and is still before the Commission on Copyright and Related Rights. Back in August, ANEM submitted its objections to the proposal of the tariff to the Commission, after which the Commission should have issued its opinion on the proposed unique tariff of the two organizations. As for the tariff of SOKOJ, after unsuccessful negotiations in 2010, in August 2011, the Commission gave a negative opinion on the proposed tariff of SOKOJ, adopting ANEM remarks, after which re-negotiations were organized but had not led to an agreement, because of unacceptable demands of SOKOJ. The Commission has recently given positive opinion on the SOKOJ's proposal of the tariff, which is particularly unfavorable for small stations, since it increases the minimum amount of fees paid by the stations with low incomes. Stations were informed that ANEM would take legal action in this respect, in order to protect the interests of its members. Regarding the lists to be submitted to collective organizations, stations were advised how to meet their legal obligation in this respect, in order to avoid legal consequences of their failure to comply with it. In addition, stations discussed their problems in fulfilling these obligations. The stations also discussed the problems they had with cable operators, due to a lack of regulation of this important issue.
After the workshop, all representatives of the participating stations agreed that they had benefited from this workshop, while the topics discussed at it were very up-to-date. As for the choice and quality of lecturers, the way the topics were treated, responses obtained and quality of debate, the workshop participants rated them as excellent, noting that they especially liked interactivity and dynamics of the discussion. This workshop has shown that such events are indispensable to ANEM members, in order to keep up with current changes in media regulation that might significantly affect their work, but also as an opportunity to discuss problems and challenges they faced in their work, particularly relating to the application of regulations.
This workshop was organized with the support of the Civil Rights Defenders.