Debate over the Fund for financial support of media pluralism

PODGORICA 24.07.2018. – Work on the new Media Act is in progress, and main debate in working group occur over the Fund for financial support of media pluralism. 

The Directorate for Media claims that the existing differences are not essential, and that the law will make progress in this area. Non-governmental sector, however, believes that the law has good solutions, but that they aren’t the key to the progress.

The director of the Directorate for the Media and the president of the working group Zeljko Rutovic said that the draft of the law has a number of new democratic institutes: the Fund for financial support of the media, obligatory journalists attention, protection of the rights of journalists, definition of Internet media. He adds that the new law will make progress in creating an atmosphere for free media work.

“It is important for us here as a proposer, as the Government of Montenegro, to be in line with high international practice and that it has its own monitoring in the final expertise of the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the European Commission,” Rutovic says for Radio-Television of Montenegro.

A member of working group, representing NGO sector, Ana Nenezić,  does not believe that the law will make significant changes, although she says it has good solutions, especially regarding the protection of journalists.

She stressed that the first thing to do, before changing the law, was to analyze the situation and to identify the key problems.

“And then we will really be able to contribute and create the ground for the work of the media, rather than simulating the reform and making the solutions that are necessary but not crucial at this time in order to be able to make some progress”, Nenezic said.

Rutović explains that, although the working group has largely agreed, the views on the Fund for Financial Support to the Media are different, but, as he claims, do not undermine the concept.

“Certain subjects consider that the Government and the Ministry of Culture should be responsible for money distribution. Our opinion is opposite. We think that, according to the Council of Europe’s current recommendation, this is the issue for functional operational autonomy of the independent regulator and independent commissions”, Rutovic said.

Nenezic points out that the foundation of the Fund is an opportunity to provide access to information on the way the state distributes money to the media.

“We did not come to the understanding of the working group to discuss about criteria and how will we distribute this money”, Nenezic said.

Marijana Camovic from the Trade Union of Media criticizes the decision to allocate money unconditionally to the printed media, and advocates project financing.

“The media should be helped, but we need to know why, what they offer in return, and why it is important that a particular media for particular program and content gets citizens’ money”, said Camovic.

She emphasizes that the new law should eliminate self-censorship and guarantee journalists freedom to work in the public interest.
In the Directorate for Media, they conclude that the speed of passing laws will not be an imperative in terms of quality. They add that the public debate on the draft law will be held in autumn, while the Government will determine the proposal by the end of the year., Podgorica, 24/07/2018