Establish a fund in order to stimulate media pluralism

Non-governmental organisations Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Centre for the development of NGOs (CDNGOs), Institute Alternative (IA) and Goran Đurović, member of working group for drafting of Proposal of Law on the amendments of law on electronic media, expressed their satisfaction due to the continuation of work of TV “Vijesti”.

Upon the payment of its tax debts in line with the law, only Montenegrin private television with national frequency secured the conditions to continue with operation and provide its further contribution to better informing of citizens on issues of utmost importance for their lives.

Government of Montenegro is obliged to ensure the conditions for the development of media pluralism and quality informing of Montenegrin citizens on all issues of public interest. Account blockade of independent TV Vijesti, due to tax debts, is a consequence of inconsistent application of legal regulations in the media sphere. Government had to act timely in order to prevent years-long unfair competition at the modest marketing-media market in Montenegro. TV Vijesti is competing at the market with televisions that produce almost their entire programme in Serbia, and broadcast it in Montenegro, as well as with RTCG, which is financed by tax payers money, even when it makes enormous losses. Additionally, televisions with headquarters located in Serbia have been failing to meet legally prescribed obligations within their own production for years, which determine the minimum of quotas, and have not been reprimanded by anyone or banned to operate according to law.

In addition, TV Vijesti, as well as all other electronic media established in Montenegro, found themselves in a difficult situation due to the fact that Government of Montenegro for years refused to put in function resources allocated for the stimulation of media pluralism. Group of NGOs recently proposed solutions which lay down the conditions for the functioning of Fund for the stimulation of media pluralism. Solutions elaborate on the procedure of allocating the resources to broadcasters for the production of content of public interest. Fund resources can be used by electronic media which have the approval for work from Agency, that cover certain local, regional territory or operate on the territory of state and that have significant production (more than 25% of its own in total production). This ensures that electronic media, which actually produce programme in Montenegro, have the possibility of improving their content in order to better inform the public. Council of AEM makes the final decision on the allocation of resources, but based on the proposal of independent experts. Fund should be financed with compensation paid by the providers of AVM services on the request (cable operators), that have about 170,000 users, which in the proposed percentage should ensure about 800,000 EUR on annual level. From another source, budget of Montenegro with fix allocation of 0,005% of GDP, it is possible to ensure approximately 200,000 EUR on annually. This amount would not burden the budget of Montenegro additionally, and it could significantly contribute to better informing of citizens when it comes to questions of public interest.

Fund for the support to radio stations, financed based on tax paid when registering vehicle, was recently established with the Agency for electronic media. In that manner, TV stations are discriminated compared to radio ones. It is necessary to secure resources that would be intended for TV stations as well.

Had the Government and Agency for electronic media earlier applied laws equally for everyone, great number of media would not even function today, and those that are significant for the informing of citizens on issues of public interest, would be in a better financial situation. Because of the inaction of state institutions and failure to apply the law equally, those from whom Montenegro could benefit suffered the most.

On behalf of non-governmental organisations Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Centre for Development of Non-governmental organisations (CDNGO) and Institute Alternative (IA)
Goran Đurović, member of the Working group for drafting Proposal of Law on the amendments of electronic media