Coalition for Media Freedom: Latest Proposed Amendments to Law on Public Information and Media Unacceptable

Source/Author: IJAS

The latest version of the Draft Law on Public Information and Media, with which, as journalists and media associations were told, the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications will present for public discussion, contains solutions that are unacceptable to the Coalition. This version of the Draft Law will not contribute to the improvement of the media scene and citizens’ information and are in conflict with the Media Strategy.

The decision according to which data on whether they violated the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics will be sought only for print and online media that have accepted the jurisdiction of the Press Council is unacceptable, discriminatory and leads to the legalization of rewarding media that continuously violate professional standards. This practically means that the media that did not accept the authority of the self-regulatory body will be able to violate the Code of Journalists with impunity and receive money from citizens for that.

The state is now proposing to punish media that are in the system of self-regulation and have committed to comply with the Code, completely contrary to the idea with which this provision was proposed, which is that the state should stop funding media that systematically violate ethical standards, promote violence, use hate speech and they run campaigns against political dissidents.

The Coalition for Media Freedom warns that this proposal is disastrous for the Serbian media scene, informing citizens in accordance with the public interest, as well as for the responsible spending of money from the budget.

The Government of Serbia, with the proposed essential changes at the last moment, after the Working Group had already agreed on the text of the Draft Law, shows that it has no intention to regulate media opportunities in Serbia with this law, but rather to reward unprofessionalism, unethicality and non-agreement.

The drafts of two media laws (the Law on Public Information and the Media and the Law on Electronic Media), which will be discussed in public, contain other, similar inappropriate solutions, contrary to the Government’s Media Strategy, which have completely rendered meaningless the previous work on drafting the law and strategic determination of Serbia.

The Coalition for Media Freedom consists of the Association of Media, the Association of Online Media (AOM), the Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS), the Business Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Curuvija Foundation.