The Coalition for Freedom of the Media points to another failure of the Government of the Republic of Serbia when it comes to the implementation of the Media Strategy, which has been delayed for the third year in a row. Namely, on May 17, 2023, the Ministry of Internal and Foreign Trade established a working group for amendments to the Law on Advertising, without informing the Ministry of Information and Telecommunications, which is responsible for implementing the Media Strategy, in which four activities relate precisely to the field of advertising.
Regulation of the advertising area is crucial for the establishment of a fair and transparent media market and is a basic prerequisite for the sustainability of private media in particular. On this occasion, we remind you that the state failed to prepare a comprehensive analysis of the relevant media market at the very beginning of the implementation of the Media Strategy, which should have included the advertising market and give a clear picture of the problems in this area, which affect the pluralism of media content. Special attention in the Strategy is devoted to the so-called state advertising (advertising by public authorities and companies that are partially or fully state-owned) which especially affects the disruption of the media market by favoring certain media companies.
Bearing all this in mind, the Ministry of Internal and Foreign Trade still failed to include in the aforementioned working group representatives of the media community, primarily representatives of associations that bring together private media.
Although we have repeatedly received promises from the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Prime Minister that coordination will be established between the various working groups that were established to amend and amend the media and other relevant laws that are mentioned and are within certain activities in the Media Strategy, the Government continues with with its bad practice of non-transparent and uncoordinated work, which only complicates and slows down the reform processes that are important for the entire Serbian society.
On this occasion, we invite the Ministry of Internal and Foreign Trade to reconsider its decision on the formation of a working group and include representatives of relevant media associations in it.
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.
Reminder from Media Strategy
4.7.1 establish standards for the positive portrayal of members of vulnerable social groups in advertising, news, reports, production and broadcasting
2.2.1 make an analysis of the relevant media market at the national, regional and local level and determine the functionality, conditions and state of competition in the media and related markets (media content distribution market, advertising market, etc.), especially with regard to determining the risk of unauthorized media concentration, threats to media pluralism, and whether there are structural and economic pressures on the media that threaten their integrity and independence
2.3.2 after carrying out an analysis of the regulatory framework in the field of advertising, with particular reference to problems related to advertising, public authorities and companies majority-owned by the state or majority-financed, propose or submit an initiative for the adoption of new or changes to existing regulations, as a prerequisite for creating equal market conditions for all media
2.5.7 to consider the possibility that in the process of drafting the Regulation on determining the elements of the annual business program, i.e. the three-year business programs of public companies and other forms of organization that perform activities of general interest, an integral part of which are the Guidelines for the preparation of the annual business program, i.e. the three-year business program public companies and other forms of organization that perform activities of general interest, recommend to public companies and other forms of organization that perform activities of general interest that they direct at least 15% of the funds from the annual budgets provided for advertising to regional and local media according to clearly established criteria that ensure equality of all media subjects, in accordance with the applicable regulations