The authors of the Twenty-second Monitoring Report, for May 2011, estimate that most of the problems the media scene in Serbia has faced for years have continued in this month as well.
In the area of freedom of expression, the results of monitoring show that threats and attacks on journalists and media in this period were a common method of exerting pressure on them and the factor that significantly obstructed their work, while the provisions of the Public Information Law, which prohibited that, were clearly ineffective in practice. Besides, continued mild penal policies and the current practice of the courts in these cases did not seem to discourage attackers, so such attacks were becoming even more frequent. Arguments for this opinion could be found in the cases treated in this part of the Report.
In May 2011, the Constitutional Court brought a decision proclaiming the provisions of the Law Amending the Public Information Law from 2009, relating to the keeping of the Media Register and powers of the minister responsible for public information in this area, to be incompatible with the Constitution. With this decision, almost all provisions of this Law have been declared unconstitutional. The monitoring team is treating this decision in the part of the Report relating to the implementation of existing laws. In the same part, the team also analyzes the application of the Broadcasting Law, namely provisions relating to the election of members to the RBA Council, indicating that their non-compliance in practice challenges the functioning of regulatory bodies. The Commissioner Sabic and application of the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance have also found their important place in this part of the Report.
During May 2011, no new laws important for the media were brought.
As the authors of the Report say, political will to change the current situation is limited at the moment to the bringing of the Media Strategy, whose Draft was due to be written by the working group, formed under the Protocol on Cooperation between the Ministry of Culture, Media and Information Society and six media associations, as well as to be proposed to the Ministry by June 1. Except this step in a positive direction, the activities of the competent authorities have not contributed substantially to improving of the situation of media. Of particular concern is the slow work of the Commission for Copyright and Related Rights, which has resulted in the fact that media, even after a year and a half since the adoption of a new law, are paying to the collective organizations the fee for the use of subjects of their protection under the old tariffs. However, RATEL may help to solve another problem that media face: the problem with the cable operator SBB, which offers the same media content distribution services to a various media under different conditions. More details about this can be read in this part of the Report.
The processes of digitalization and privatization – in the opinion of the authors of this Report, it is almost certain at this point that Serbia will not entirely switch to digital terrestrial broadcasting of TV programs by April 4, 2012, despite the claims of the competent ministry that it would occur, with great support from the EU. As for the privatization of media, there is no announcement or any other activity that would indicate that competent authorities are willing to seriously and systemically commit to this issue. The media remain divided over whether the privatization, or on the contrary, incomplete privatization, is the cause of their many problems. The monitoring team provides its opinion on this issue in this part of the Report.
In Conclusion, the authors of this report elaborate on why there is still no progress in the Serbian media sector.
The Twenty-second Monitoring Report can be downloaded here, in whole or in part, by clicking on the selected section. It was produced, like before, by the expert team of the law office “Zivkovic & Samardzic”, in cooperation with ANEM.