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IRIS 2006-3:11/17

Serbia and Montenegro

Tender for Radio and TV Coverage Announced

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Miloš Živković

Belgrade University School of Law - Živković Samardžić Law offices

On 25 January 2006 the Serbian Broadcasting Agency announced the tender for the issuing of licences for the terrestrial transmission of radio and TV programmes. This has been rendered possible after the confirmation of the Frequency Allocation Plan by the Government, as well as by confirmation of the broadcasting fees proposed by the Broadcasting Agency and the Telecommunications Agency. The tender contains the following: Five networks for coverage of the whole territory of the Republic (national coverage) for TV and radio respectively, one network for coverage of the territory of the province of Vojvodina (provincial coverage) for TV and radio respectively, and six TV and 14 radio networks for coverage of the broader region of Belgrade (Belgrade coverage). The tender is open for 60 days as of 25 January 2006, and the decision on the applications shall be made within the subsequent 90 days.

In accordance with the 2002 Broadcasting Act the conditions for the applications have been divided into technical, organizational and programme-related ones. Technical conditions refer mostly to studio and broadcasting equipment which is used/intended to be used, the organizational requirements refer to the status of the applicant, with special emphasis on existing human resources for the stations that are already on air, as well as to the proof of registration of the applicant and the financial data (for existing broadcasters) or the business plan (for new ones). Concerning the programme offer, programming schedules have to be presented as well as, for the existing broadcasters, the proof that copyrights are regulated by contract and paid for. Conditions that relate to the transmitters have been set in accordance with the Telecommunications Act of 2003. They are mostly limited to the requirement of having a contract with an individual or an organization authorised to make technical documentation.

The reactions to the announcement of the tender are twofold: on the one hand, it seems that the fact that the Broadcasting and Telecommunications Agencies finally started to work is unequivocally supported, but on the other hand many broadcasters feel that the amounts of the fees have been set quite high bearing in mind the existing advertising market, which may, as a consequence, lead to the financial disaster of some broadcasters or total commercialisation of the programme offer in order for the financial obligations to be met.