Source/Author: CJA and HINA
Source/Photo: European Parliament Office in Croatia

The European Media Freedom Act should ensure the independence and plurality of media, transparency of ownership, and regulation of advertising, particularly respecting editorial charters and editorial autonomy, it was stated on Monday at a panel organized by the Office of the European Parliament in Croatia.

The Head of the Media Sector at the Ministry of Culture and Media, Nives Zvonarić, reminded that the European Commission presented the proposal for the European Media Freedom Act in September 2022, and the European Parliament and member states are now working on their response, or their positions. It is expected that the process will be completed in Parliament in September, after which negotiations with the Council of Europe on the final version can begin, Zvonarić emphasized.

“It is important for us that this Act is equally fair for all types of media and that there are no exceptions based on revenue or the size of the media, and we will advocate for stronger criteria for state advertising,” said Zvonarić, adding that this Act can be strengthened through our legislation and has the full support of the Ministry of Culture and Media.

Hrvoje Zovko, President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), said he hopes that the expected European Media Freedom Act will protect professional and critical journalism, but also pointed out the need to respect existing editorial charters of Croatian media, which are often dead letter.

“The worst example is the case of Rijeka’s Novi list. The state has been silent about it for years, and the head of that newspaper has been acting editor-in-chief for years, like an endless day. We will demand that the privileged VAT rate of five percent be revoked from certain publishers,” said the president of the CJA, adding that state funding of the media is also problematic, with no clear criteria.

Maja Sever, President of the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists’ (TUCJ), as the moderator of the panel, emphasized the need to protect journalists and editorial autonomy, stating that the European Media Freedom Act is a “solid, robust act” with strong mechanisms to preserve journalism as a public good.

Lawyer specialized in media law, Vesna Alaburić, spoke about the various measures and mechanisms provided by the new European act, stating that there is a significant gap between theory and practice in Croatian media when it comes to editorial independence.

Source: Hina and CJA