IJAS: Return of State Ownership to Media is Disastrous for Public Information System

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Source/Author: IJAS

Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS) calls on the members of the Parliament of Serbia to amend Articles 39 and 41 of the Draft Law on Public Information and Media in such a way that they remain the same as in the current Law on Public Information and thereby enable Serbia to obtain a basic media law that is supported by all relevant and representative journalistic and media associations and is fully aligned with the Strategy for the Development of the Public Information System for the period 2020-2025.

The disputed articles of the Law on Public Information and Media Proposal legalize the return of state ownership of the media, which contradicts the goals and measures of the Media Strategy, and prevent the creation of a functional, sustainable and fair media market protected from political influence.

In recent years, IJAS independently, through the Coalition for Media Freedom and in cooperation with other partner organizations, made a huge contribution to the process of passing key media laws – the Law on Public Information and Media and the Law on Electronic Media, and the drafts of those laws undeniably contain a number of positive solutions that should improve the media scene and contribute to progress in freedom of expression in our country.

The process of passing these laws was not easy and was often slowed down due to the state’s inactivity, but at the last meeting last Tuesday (October 17, 2023), the Government of Serbia accepted most of the demands of the media community and thus created a legal basis for the establishment of a quality public information system and a big step in to the process of joining Serbia to the European Union.

However, two controversial articles that the government did not want to give up, cancel many good solutions and improvements that the new media laws bring and can be disastrous for the media market and freedom of expression. We repeat that from the first indication of the return of state ownership in the media, the Coalition for Media Freedom, of which IJAS is a member, harshly and uncompromisingly criticized the government’s intention and urged it to remain committed to the measures and goals of the Media Strategy, adopted at the session of the Government of Serbia in January 2020.

Since it is an official state strategic document, we remind of some of the goals, measures and indicators of success from the Media Strategy:

– Special objective 2: Established functional, sustainable and fair media market protected from political influence;

– Measure 2.3: Reduced and made transparent the influence of the state on the media market so that there are equal market conditions for all media;

– Success indicator 2.3.1: The number of companies in which the state has a share in the founding rights of media publishers reduced to zero.

 

IJAS,

October 22, 2023