30. 07. 2012
THIRTY-FOURTH MONITORING REPORT
According to findings of the monitoring team, in June 2012, the Serbian media scene looked as the following:
Freedom of expression - this period too recorded threats, pressures and attacks on media and journalists. The authors treat two cases - one about how some politicians react to critical articles in the media and the other, about showing dissatisfaction with writing of a journalist by attacking her, i.e. her property. Both cases indicate a lack of respect for media freedom and poor conditions in which media and journalists work. How much this freedom is respected by courts is illustrated in two analyzed court proceedings in media cases. The first related to the case of serious threats to a journalist, because of which this journalist has been under 24/7 police protection for more than two years and a half and prevented from freely doing her job, while the courts have a dilemma whether it is a grave threat or a mere insult. The second deals with the case, very common in the Serbian court practice. Namely, the court decision, by which a media outlet is ordered to pay damages due to incorrect information from a faithfully conveyed police statement, is a matter that sets off the practice of Serbian courts today the most from European standard of freedom of expression. The third case relates to the filing of criminal complaint and possible initiating of legal proceedings against journalists, for allegedly spreading false information. Expert analysis of these cases indicates that the practice of the Serbian courts in media cases is still a significant factor that adversely affects the freedom of expression.
Implementation of existing regulations - Implementation of the Broadcasting Law - regarding a request for fulfilling a pre-election promise of the Serbian President to revoke TV subscription fee and the statements of the former Supreme Court judge on that subject, the authors expertly discuss the issue of public service financing, its mandate, control over its work and the necessary conditions for its editorial independence. Implementation of the Law on State Aid Control was analyzed through possible launching of supervisory control of state aid in the media sector, in relation to the request of private new agencies Beta and FoNet to the State Aid Control Commission to investigate each state aid received by the public company "Tanjug News Agency" in the last two years.
The new Serbian Parliament, constituted on May 31, did not sit in June and hence no new regulations significant for media sector were debated; however, the authors deal with the announcement of the Acting President of SNS, Aleksandar Vucic, that revoking of the restrictive Public Information Law would be one of the priorities of his party in the new government.
Work of competent authorities - in this part of the Report, the authors analyze: the decision of the Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA) to initiate proceedings against two national TV broadcasters for airing the commercial that, in the opinion of the Agency, causes an association that may be considered indecent; hitherto results of the work of Commission for Complaints of the Press Council; results of the open competition for co-financing of media projects in 2012 organized by the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, especially with regards to significant differences in the decisions on the allocation of funds in two calls, for which the first decisions were brought in May and then immediately withdrawn, and the new decisions were made in June, without any explanation of the Ministry; work of the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, who gave a statement that it had commenced the oversight of the enforcement of the Law on Personal Data Protection in the operations of mobile operators in Serbia, which is relevant for the media and journalists - the subject of the oversight is access to retained communication data, so-called call logs, which, among others, makes the protection of journalistic sources meaningless; the amount of fees that broadcasters pay to Sokoj for broadcasting musical works.
The digitalization process - the authors analyze new Rulebook on the Switchover from Analog to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting and Access to Multiplex in Terrestrial Digital Broadcasting and write about next steps in the process of digitalization.
The privatization of media - as there is no information from authorities about implementation of any activity from the Action Plan related to the privatization of the media, although the deadlines are slowly expiring, the authors deal with the results of the research by the portal "Juzne vesti" on the financing of Nis-based media from public sources, which show why the privatization is important, but that it must take place simultaneously and in coordination with other processes.
Conclusion contains opinion and assessment of the Report's authors about what should be the priority of the new government when it comes to the media sector.
The Thirty-fourth Monitoring Report is created by the expert team of the law office "Zivkovic&Samardzic" in cooperation with ANEM. You can download it here, in whole or in parts, by clicking on the selected section below.
Section FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION here
Section MONITORING OF THE IMPLEMENTATION OF EXISTING REGULATIONS here
Section MONITORING OF ADOPTION OF NEW LAWS here
Section MONITORING OF THE ACTIVITIES OF REGULATORY BODIES, AUTHORITIES AND COLLECTIVE ORGANIZATIONS here
Section MONITORING OF THE DIGITALIZATION PROCESS here
Section MONITORING OF THE PRIVATIZATION PROCESS here
Section OVERALL CONCLUSION here
The COMPLETE REPORT can be downloaded here