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09. 04. 2015


Belgrade, 9.4.2015 - The Coalition of Journalists' and Media Associations (UNS, NUNS, NDNV, ANEM and Local Press) publicly protests the decision of the Nova Varoš municipality president to unilateraly change the proposal of the panel that assessed the projects in the public information sector within the public competition issued by this local self-government.

The three-member panel (two members are experienced journalists nominated by the Coalition of Journalists' and Media Associations and the third was nominated by the local self-government administration) assessed the projects and proposed amounts for co-financing them. However, the president of the Nova Varoš municipality, Dimitrije Paunović, significantly changed the panel's proposals. Paunović changed the amounts while failing to provide an acceptable explanation for this, due to which we consider his decision unjustifiable and arbitrary.

While the panel explained each proposed amount for co-financing of approved projects by providing an assessment of project goals regarding informing of the local public, the municipality president is of opinion that "not all the proposals are realistic" and he changed them by significantly reducing the proposed amounts for some projects, while considerably increasing the amounts for other ones. He thus reduced the panel's proposals for two media projects from 250.000 and 150.000 dinars to 50.000 dinars!!! In the explanation of the reduction of the support for the projects of the two media (based outside the municipality territory) the president cited "previous experience". At the same time, he increased the amount for a project of a media outlet (also based outside of Nova Varoš) because he had "established good cooperation..." with it.

The Coalition reminds that the Law on Public Information and Media precisely defines that the assessment of the media projects in a competition is done by an expert panel comprised of independent media experts appointed by the decision of the manager of the authority that published the call for project proposals. According to the Rulebook on Co-financing Projects to Realise Public Interest in the Public Information Sector, the decision on the allocation of funds (with an explanation) is issued by the manager of the authority that published the call "based on the panel's proposal". The Rulebook also defines the right of the manager of the authority to request in writing from the panel to correct irregularities or mistakes within a certain deadline if the manager shall notice that the panel issued a proposal contrary to the Law, the Rulebook or the public competition, or that the proposal contains other obvious mistake.

The president of the Nova Varoš municipality interpreted this provision by allowing himself, without consulting panel members, to reconsider how "realistic" the panel's proposals are and change them of his own will. This rendered the public competition and the independence of the expert panel meaningless, while the decision on co-financing public interest was brought back to the personal power of an individual.

The Coalition of Journalists' and Media Associations expects the Ministry of Culture and Information to issue a public statement regarding this case considering that monitoring the implementation of the Law on Public Information and Media is within its competence.


Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM)

Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS)

Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS)

Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV)

Business Association "Local Press"

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