Coalition for media freedom: REM’s decision is a continuation of media darkness in Serbia

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Source/Author: IJAS

At today’s session, which was closed to the public, the Council of REM (Regulatory authority for electronic media) decided by secret vote to re-grant licenses for electronic media with national coverage to Pink, Happy, B92 and Prva televisions, regardless of the fact that they have been violating the laws, the Code of Journalists of Serbia for years and did not comply with the minimum conditions prescribed by the by-laws. At the same meeting, it was decided to call for a tender for the fifth license. 

REM’s reports from year to year show that none of these television stations fulfilled the obligation prescribed by the Rulebook on the minimum conditions for the provision of media services and criteria for decision-making in the process of issuing a license for the provision of media services based on a public tender, according to which it is defined that the provider of general media services must have informative, scientific-educational, cultural-artistic, documentary and children’s programs, as well as a program for minors. Also, none of these televisions respected the elaboration on the basis of which they were previously licensed.

In 2020 alone, over 12 000 violations of the Advertising Act were committed by these four television stations, and several reports were filed for hate speech and broadcasting of violence. However, none of that seems to have been factored into the decision.

Nor were the decision-making criteria prescribed by the Rulebook taken into account, according to which REM had to, among other things, assess “whether the applicant complies with the regulations and professional and ethical media standards” and “to what extent the applicant complied with the program elaboration based on which it was issued a permit”. It is clear that REM violated these provisions, which was to some extent expected, given that REM Council President Olivera Zekic said earlier that it was a new competition where everyone has the same starting positions.

The Coalition for Media Freedom considers this use of public property an insult to common sense because it shows the selective application of laws and rules, i.e. that the rules do not apply to privileged media in the service of the ruling regime. REM’s decision that Pink, Happy, B92 and Prva televisions get their licenses again is an announcement of the further collapse of the media scene in Serbia, which will contribute to further cultural and any other deterioration of the entire society. Instead of media pluralism, we got a continuation of media darkness. 

 

Association of Media

Association of Online Media (AOM)

Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV)

Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (NUNS)

Business Association of the Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” 

Slavko Curuvija Foundation