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03. 05. 2009


This year, for the ninth time in democratic Serbia, we celebrate the World Press Freedom Day. Although the current conditions in the media scene are better than those that were prevalent before 2000 – since the general situation in the society has changed – we still cannot be satisfied with the degree of progress in the media sector.

Talking about the media legislation, the fact that several fundamental laws have been adopted does not change the impression that the reforms have been slow and insufficient. The lack of a clear national media strategy which would serve as a basis for solving individual issues in this area has resulted in partial solutions and laws that are often contradictory and incompatible. Also, the inconsistent or selective implementation of the existing laws has significantly contributed to the instability felt in the media scene. Slow adoption of new laws or modification of the existing ones diminishes some already achieved results. Reality creates new obstacles which have remained without an adequate regulatory solution. This situation leads to illegal alternatives that create chaos in the already fragile media scene. Certain new platforms for broadcasting, most of all the satellite and the cable, which are still unregulated, are trying to establish their market position independently and without planning, while some important processes – like digitalization – are still at the beginning.

Strong political and economic influence, which is growing stronger by the day, seriously aggravates the situation in the media sector. Due to this, at the moment Serbia lacks some crucial media laws, like the law on the transparency of ownership and unlawful media concentration, while certain important processes have been blocked, among them privatization and the appointment of new members of the Council of the Republic Broadcasting Agency. All these issues obstruct the further development of the media sector. The media market is still disorganized, hampered by too many radio and TV stations which work in unequal conditions – the result of incomplete privatization. Aside from this, the growing number of illegal broadcasters which prevent the legal broadcasters from fully realizing their right to broadcast program and achieving the expected revenue – because of dumping prices offered to advertisers – is making the position of commercial broadcasters much more difficult. Unfortunately, the officials do not react efficiently and timely, failing to close "pirate" stations and therefore contributing to confusion in the media market.

In the year of the financial crisis, the economic situation of all media outlets has worsened, the expected income from advertisements has decreased dramatically, while the fees paid by the broadcasters to regulatory bodies and collective associations – SOKOJ and OFPS – are so high that their survival has become impossible.

Due to all these factors, it is of crucial importance to organize an immediate and coordinated action by all relevant participants in the media sector which would result in continuation of media reforms that are now more needed than ever. It is necessary to provide adequate conditions for activities of the media, including an optimal regulatory framework that would allow them to work in accordance with market and democratic principles. Taking into account the importance of the media for formation of the public opinion and further democratization of the society, the government must fulfill its obligations and achieve necessary results.

On the occasion of the World Press Freedom Day, ANEM wants to emphasize that winning freedom is not enough. Freedom must be kept and maintained. Therefore it is of crucial importance that all stakeholders – representatives of official bodies and institutions, as well as representatives of the media, media associations and organizations and all other relevant participants in the media scene – join their efforts to achieve desired reforms and contribute, each in their own way, to this goal. ANEM calls on everyone to unite in this mission!

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