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IRIS 2018-1:1/38

Serbia

Several members resign from the working group founded to draft new media strategy

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Slobodan Kremenjak

Živković Samardžić Law Office, Belgrade

In mid-July 2017, the Ministry of Culture and Information formed an expert working group with the mandate to draft the new Strategy for Development of the Public Information System in the Republic of Serbia until 2023 (Media Strategy). The working group included representatives of the Journalist’s Association of Serbia (UNS); an informal coalition of several other journalists’ and media associations (the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia - NUNS, the Independent Journalist’s Association of Vojvodina - NDNV, the Association of Independent Electronic Media - ANEM, the Association of Local Independent Media ”Lokal Press“ and the Association of Online Media - AOM); the media publishers’ association (AM); the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB); another informal coalition of media and journalists’ associations (PROUNS, SINOS, the Association of Media and Media Workers, and the Journalist’s Association of Vojvodina); as well as some independent experts and representatives of the relevant public bodies.

By the end of October 2017, four members had left the working group for various reasons. Firstly, the representative of the Journalist’s Association of Serbia (UNS), Ljiljana Smajlović, resigned as a form of protest against the appointment of Aleksandar Gajović, whom she described as a person that promotes misogynous prejudices against women, to the position of State Secretary for Media in the Ministry of Culture.

After that, the representative of the Association of Media Publishers resigned due to the inefficiency of the working group whose credibility had been disputed. Subsequently, the informal coalition of journalists’ and media associations (NUNS, NDNV, ANEM, Lokal Press and AOM), decided to withdraw their representative’s participation from the working group, believing that the whole process had been compromised. The coalition suggested that the government form a new working group. Finally, one of the independent experts, Mr Dejan Nikolić, left the group and stated that it was completely pointless to decide on the environment in which journalists were to work for the next five years without representatives of the main journalists’ associations, who had already left the group in the previous few weeks.

Despite the resignations and withdrawals, the Ministry of Culture and Information decided to continue the work on the drafting of the new Media Strategy. Earlier this year, the ministry announced that the draft would be completed by the end of 2017; however, in view of these resignations and withdrawals, such an ambitious deadline might not be fulfilled.

According to the former Media Strategy that expired at the end of 2016, the major strategic goals of the Government in the media sector include the privatization of the remaining publicly-owned media; the transparency of media ownership; state aid to media in the form of project co-financing of content that is of public interest; as well as the finalisation of the digital switchover.

References
Odluka o formiranju radne grupe za izradu radne verzije Strategije razvoja sistema javnog informisanja u Republici Srbiji do 2023. godine SR
 http://merlin.obs.coe.int/redirect.php?id=18805
 
  Decision on the forming of the working group for the preparation of the draft Strategy for the development of public information system in the Republic of Serbia for the period up to 2023