AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING IN SERBIA
Serbia (RTS) should be replaced by a public service broadcaster
(PSB), as defined by the Council of Europe, operating for the benefit
of all the citizens of Serbia and accountable to them. This paper
refers to the future public broadcaster as the Public Service Broadcaster
in Serbia (PSBIS).
the process of transition, it will be vital to assist those media
which, during the years of RTS's subjection to complete political
control, provided citizens with objective information and analysis,
free of political manipulation. These media upheld the essential
values of public service broadcasting under extremely difficult
and sometimes dangerous conditions. Many of these local radio and
television stations are themselves public service media. Appropriate
legislation should be designed to regulate the status of these media.
future public broadcaster will bear little resemblance to today's
RTS. The establishment of a genuine public service broadcasting
organisation will be impossible without decisive and even courageous
action by Parliament and Government. The challenges involved will
only become harder to overcome with the passage of time and hesitancy
in the coming weeks would prevent success, thus harming the rights
of the public and obstructing the normalisation of all the broadcast
media. The authorities should demonstrate both leadership and vision
by urgently seizing the present opportunity.
the conference agreed on the following points:
Serbia needs new media legislation in keeping with the high international
standards that it is committed to respect. This legislation should
establish public service broadcasting. In preparing appropriate
laws, the Parliament and the Government should co-operate with experts
in the non-governmental sector. As the conference confirmed, international
expertise is also available.
The PSBIS should be established as a public corporation, accountable
to the public, and enjoying both institutional autonomy and editorial
independence. Various models of financing and management structure
are available to ensure these principles. While the participants
in the conference discussed alternative models, they agreed that
PSB means in the first place a certain kind of content, namely
a comprehensive range of programming comprising information, education,
culture and entertainment which is accessible to all citizens. The
structure of the PSBIS should be designed to provide such content.
The conference agreed that the PSBIS should have a supervisory
council, and possibly other supervisory bodies to be established
by law. The supervisory council should appoint (and may remove)
the director-general. The supervisory council should be appointed
for staggered terms. It should represent society as a whole, and
not in any sense be delegated by political or other special interests.
Active politicians, state officials and others should not be eligible
The PSBIS should be funded by the public. In order to ensure
adequate quality and pluralism in programming, this funding may
be supplemented by advertising and sponsorship revenue, within clear
and strict limitations, as well as other sources of revenue such
as the sale of programmes.
The PSBIS should be a national network. As such, it would need
at least two terrestrial television and radio channels to create
a viable service. The second television channel should have substantial
regional and local input and output, including in minority languages.
The PSBIS should concentrate on its core role and service as
a broadcaster. It should be divested of additional activities. Also,
the transmission facilities should be divested into an independent
company with a legal framework to ensure its best usage.
The conference also believes that the role of RTS during recent
years should be subject to transparent examination. This examination
might be conducted by an independent group of professionals or academics.
AND RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE REGULATION AND LICENSING OF PRIVATE BROADCASTERS
it is impossible to bring order into the frequency spectrum
without adopting new coherent distribution and assignment plans,
the competent state authority should start working on it as
soon as possible.
co-ordination of frequencies with neighbouring countries is
necessary in order to solve existing problems.
is necessary to establish full technical and technological unity
of transmission systems. A new set of basic technical transmission
standards and technical production standards should be adopted.
competence for adopting frequency distribution and assignment
plans should be either at the level of the Federation, or at
the level of the Republics. The present situation, where the
Federation is accountable to the ITU although it implements
its decisions only in Serbia, and where Montenegro has its own
Telecommunications Act (which is about to be adopted by the
Assembly of Montenegro) and Agency for Telecommunications, is
not tolerable. The solution to this problem shall depend on
transparency of the work of the organ which shall pass frequency
plans must be achieved. It shall also be made so that the largest
possible number of terrestrial broadcasting frequencies is available,
thus observing international standards. The plan should be published
in the official gazette.
for new technologies, legal regulations should be passed as
soon as possible.
present licensing system in Yugoslavia is inadequate and should
therefore be completely abandoned. A new system based on the
European experience should be created. No reform of the present
system could produce desired results.
new regulations and new system shall be designed in accordance
with existing European standards, whereby an independent regulatory
body, which would decide upon the granting of licences to broadcasters
(terrestrial, cable and satellite), should be established. This
regulatory body should be fully independent from public authorities,
subject to scrutiny by the courts. Its members should be prominent
experts as well as representatives of civil society. State officials,
officials of political parties, the owners, shareholders, managers
and employees of the media, either broadcast or print, should
not be members of the regulatory body. The latter should have
clear criteria for granting licences set forth in the law on
broadcasting. The work of the regulatory authority should be
completely public and transparent.
is necessary to perform thorough revision of all presently allocated
frequencies and immediately adopt provisional solutions which
shall enable all existing stations an equal starting position
in the new process of allocation, which shall be carried out
according to new regulations. In particular, full revision of
the contracts on co-operation between the RTS and private boadcasters,
under which RTS ceded its transmitting infrastructure to private
broadcasters, shall be made.
basis of the new licensing system should be a transparent frequency
plan, as recommended in sub-section 1.
new system should differentiate the process of granting licences
to broadcasters (content criteria) from the process of licensing
transmitters and links (technical criteria).
competence for issuing licences by the independent regulatory
body shall be at the republican level, regardless of the possible
federal competence for licensing transmitters and links.
for the use of frequencies should be legally introduced in the
new system, but the amount of these fees should adhere to the
economic situation of the moment. The amount of the fees may
depend on programme content.