Professional Organizations Raise Concerns about Proposed Changes in the Macedonian Media Law

Skopje, 18 July 2011 – The Association of the Journalist of Macedonia (AJM), The Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM) and the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Professionals (IUJMP) are expressing their serious concern regarding the recently proposed changes to the Broadcasting Law, which intends to change the composition and the number of its members from 9 to 15.

Changing of important laws such as this one, in an accelerated procedure which does not include the media, experts and other stakeholders, is further complicating the situation with the media in the country, and we perceive this  decision as imposed.

We are convinced that any change in regulation concerning the media should always be carefully considered and adopted, in transparent and open process, where the needs and findings of media workers, media experts, and media professionals’ organizations, will also be taken into consideration.

Following our public reaction from July 12th this year, we asked for immediate meeting with representatives of the group of MP’s who submitted the proposal in the Parliament, as well as the responsible authorities in the Government.

During the meetings with MP from the VMRO-DPMNE, Mr. Vlatko Gorcev, on July 14th , and the Minister of Transport and Communication, Mr. Mile Janakieski, on July 15th, we asked the proposed changes of the Law to be withdrawn, and the Government and the Parliament to open a public debate with the media representatives, the professional media organizations and media experts for addressing the existing problems in the media sphere. We underlined that this is a good opportunity for solving the existing problems with the media in Macedonia.

Unfortunately, our proposal was not accepted, and we were told that the proponents believe the proposed changes will contribute for enhancing the efficiency of the Broadcasting Council (BC).

Following this communication, we are now confident that the rationale behind the hasty changes lies in the Government and the ruling political parties’ decision to impose a complete control over the BC.  This is a matter of a serious concern because the independence of the regulator, the Broadcasting Council of Republic of Macedonia is crucial for the independence of the electronic media.

We are aware that the implementation of the Broadcasting Law is not completely successful, and these failures contributed for the complicated media situation in the country, for which we warned publicly in many occasions.

Although the BC holds an important responsibility for the current media situation, we are not convinced that the proposed increasing of the number of it’s members will solve the problem.

We are sad to conclude that there is no sincere intention of the institutions in Macedonia to enter a serious dialogue with the media community for solving the accumulated media problems. Unfortunately, whenever regulations concerning the media are enacted, it is done at the last moment, and in an exclusive and non-transparent manner.

Source: Macedonian Institute for Media