Media organizations' joint statement on Media Strategy

The Working Group formed by the Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetkovic, harmonized, on September 8, the Draft Media Strategy of Serbia with the adopted amendments of the media sector, except in the section related to establishment of regional public service broadcasters.

Journalists’ organizations, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS), the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), and media associations, namely the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), Local Press and the Media Association, welcome the fact that the long-lasting process of preparation of the Media Strategy of Serbia is nearing completion.

The media sector expects that the adoption of the document will result in introduction of rules and standards in the chaotic media scene of Serbia.

Media and journalists’ associations have invested enormous efforts in crucial modifications of this significant document. Numerous compromises have been made with the aim to allow its final completion.

Media associations and journalists’ organizations are satisfied with some of the document’s provisions, but are cautiously reserved with regard to its other provisions. At the same time, they consider the section of the Draft Media Strategy that is related to regional public service broadcasters completely unacceptable and practically unsustainable.

The media sector demands that this section of the Draft Media Strategy be completely revoked and that the legal regulations related to public service broadcasters be thoroughly redefined.

The media sector had insisted on adoption of seven amendments as a condition for its participation in the activities of the Working Group. However, the amendment on regional public service broadcasters was rejected, while the other amendments have been adopted, with certain modifications.

The media sector demands that all imprecise definitions be removed from the final text of the Media Strategy, since they would allow subsequent ambiguous interpretations by the government and differing legal procedures, mostly with regard to media ownership and withdrawal of the state from media ownership.

Journalists’ and media associations are also dissatisfied with the fact that, according to the proposed Strategy, National Councils of National Minorities will be allowed to establish media outlets – and not only print media outlets. They are concerned with the possibility that the proposed provisions would allow the National Councils to monopolize informing of minorities, especially since the proposed Strategy offers almost no guarantees that editorial independence and objectivity of these media outlets would be protected.

The media sector insists that the already harmonized fundamental demands of journalists’ organizations and media associations remain unchanged during the final consultations within the Government of Serbia and adoption of the proposed Strategy by the Government, including the demands related to protection of competition and introduction of European rules on state aid as of January 1, 2012.

Journalists’ and media associations reserve the right to voice their individual opinions about the Media Strategy after the adoption of the executive document by the Government of Serbia.

Media associations and journalists’ organizations will continue to actively monitor the implementation of the Media Strategy and do everything in their power to achieve its full realization.

The Working Group for drafting the text of the Draft Media Strategy until 2016 was formed by the Prime Minister, Mirko Cvetkovic, at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, comprised of the following members: the president of the Group, Dragana Milicevic Milutinovic (the state secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society), Irina Reljin (The Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society), Goran Radosavljevic (The Ministry of Finance), Srdjan Majstorovic (The Office for European Integration), Jelena Trivan (The Parliament’s Culture and Information Committee), Dragan Penezic (The Commission for Protection of Competition), Ranka Vujovic (The Republic Secretariat for Legislation), Zoran Sekulic (representative of the media sector) and Sandra Basic Hrvatin (the European Commission expert).

During the period August 22 – September 8, 2011, six meetings of the Working Group were held, with participation of the representatives of the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia and joined by the OSCE representatives at later point.

The formation of the Working Group was preceded by a public discussion about the Draft Media Strategy, organized in the period June 1 and July 15, 2011.

The Draft Media Strategy was prepared during the period April 20 – June 1, by the originally formed seven-member Working Group of Experts of the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society, with five representatives of journalists’ organizations and associations and two representatives of the Ministry.

ANEM - Association of Independent Electronic Media (www.anem.rs) is an independent, non-governmental, non-profit organisation, a network of over 100 independent media outlets throughout Serbia, dedicated to promotion and protection of media freedoms and strengthening of the position of professional broadcast media