Journalists’ and Media Associations: We Request Initiation of Procedure for Dismissal of REM Council Members

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Source/Author: IJAS

Journalists’ and media associations and trade unions request the initiation of proceedings for the dismissal of members of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) Council due to long-term activity that is in violation of Article 5 of the Electronic Media Law.

REM directly violates the provisions of that article because – “it does not contribute to the preservation, protection and development of freedom of opinion and expression and does not protect the public interest in the field of electronic media and does not protect users of electronic media services.” 

The undersigned organizations believe that the latest decision on the granting of a license for the provision of media services via cable and IPTV network “Insajder team d.o.o.” to the publisher of the “Informer” daily newspaper, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) has definitely made its existence meaningless because it is in direct opposition to the laws that regulate the work of this body, as well as the by-laws adopted by the REM itself.

Since the beginning of 2020, this newspaper, which is a champion in breaking the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics, has received at least 18.3 million dinars of public money in tenders for media projects. The latest monitoring by the Press Council shows that this newspaper violated the Code of Journalists of Serbia 512 times in the period from October 2022 to the end of January 2023.

Unfortunately, this is just one more in a series of indicators of illegal and illegitimate behavior of REM. We would like to remind you that although REM’s professional services recorded numerous violations every month in the broadcasting of all televisions that have a national broadcasting license, especially PINK and Happy, last summer REM re-granted them licenses for national coverage. These televisions did not adhere to the previous elaboration, which contained the mandatory broadcasting of children’s and scientific-educational programs. They continued with the same practice in the new cycle, as shown by the latest REM report – presented at last week’s session of the Committee for Culture and Information, which states that for three months this year, the share of children’s programs in the total program at Pink was about 0.02%. and on Happy 0.01%. When they applied for a new license last year, representatives of Happy Television promised that the share of children’s content would be 5% of the total program, while representatives of Pink promised that cultural, children’s and scientific-educational programs would be represented with a minimum of 20% in the program. The Council of the REM-a has been in abeyance for more than six months – since December 2, when the deadline set by law for the fifth permit for national coverage expired.

At yesterday’s meeting, one of the last items on the agenda was the granting of a work permit to the Insider team. The expert service did not submit for inspection the submitted documentation necessary for decision-making, and the Council, without inspecting the documentation related to the proposed program concept, the so-called elaboration, nevertheless made a decision on granting the permit. Only one member of the Council, Judita Popovic, requested and received an insight into the report. This attitude towards work is another proof of why this body does not fulfill its legally prescribed role.

That is why these organizations believe that the only solution is that the members of the REM Council should collectively submit their resignations due to the non-implementation of the provisions of the law, neglect of the public interest and promotion of the political influence of the authorities. After all, the state action plan, after the adoption of the new Electronic Media Law, which is about to be put to public debate and enter the adoption procedure, foresees the exclusion of state bodies from proposing candidates for REM Council members and the election of the new REM Council .

The Coalition for Media Freedom believes that this selective use of public property is an insult to common sense and the journalistic profession 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. This decision is an announcement of the further decline 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, and that’s why we demand that REM members collectively resign.

 

Signatories:

Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (IJAS)

Association of Online Media (AOM)

Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM)

Slavko Curuvija Foundation

Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina (NDNV)

Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press”

Association of Media

Union of Journalists of Serbia (SINOS)

GS KUM „Nezavisnost“

Journalists’ Association of Serbia (JAS)