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13. 03. 2015

Coalition of Media and Journalists’ Associations: MEDIA ARE NOT PR DEPARTMENTS OF PUBLIC AUTHORITIES

Belgrade, 13.3.2015 - The Coalition of Media and Journalists' Associations, comprised of ANEM, Local Press, UNS, NUNS and NDNV, protests against abuses of public procurement with the aim of financing „suitable" media and calls on a full and unambiguous implementation of media laws.

Some local self-governments, instead of fulfilling their obligation of „taking care of public information at the local level", are reducing the funds for public information and are keeping their positions in the media sphere by means of non-transparent advertising and public procurement that is not envisaged as a means of funding media content by the Law on Public Information and Media.

The Coalition of Media and Journalists' Associations warns that indirect inflow of money to „suitable" media remains a great gray zone that can bring under question mark the fulfillment of the goals of the Media Strategy, and thus the very media reform as well.

The Coalition of Media and Journalists' Associations stresses that, if the state continues to tolerate procurement of information services from the media without sanctions for violating legal obligation of allocating funds for project-based financing, it becomes obvious that all levels of authorities may freely reallocate funds for project-based financing to other purposes (public advertising and reporting on the work of their bodies - PR). In theory, this „budgetary acrobatics" may reduce the funds intended for public interest to zero or close to zero.

The Coalition of Media and Journalists' Associations thus requests from responsible state authorities to initiate as soon as possible the procedure for amending the Law on Public Procurement and accompanying regulation, and to discontinue the process of public procurement pertaining to media services, in order to cease with the practice of abusing the institute of public procurement.

The Coalition of Media and Journalists' Associations calls on the full implementation of the Law on Public Information and Media in order to respect the substance of the Law.

Public information (and public advertising) is not a typical service that can be in the same rank with the procurement of office material. It presupposes public interest, fulfillment of media freedoms and the freedom of expression.

Project-based co-financing of programme content for the fulfillment of public interest in the public information sector and clear, non-discriminatory and transparent procedure are the only warranty that the government will not use the allocated funding to control the media and pump in public funds into „suitable" media.

ANEM, Local Press, UNS, NUNS and NDNV


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