Urgently to adopt amendments to the media laws in Parliament

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) and member of the RTCG Council Goran Đurović call upon all parliamentary parties to initiate drafting of amendments’ proposals of the media laws without delay. Media laws are part of agreement of political subjects in the process of restoring trust to election system and it is necessary to adopt them as soon as possible.

We remind parliamentary parties and the public that amendments to the Media Law, Law on Electronic Media and Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro are in Parliament for a long period of time already. Amendments were proposed by non-governmental organisations.

Amendments to the Media Law are necessary to ensure transparent broadcasting of state institutions, local self-governments and all organisations that are financed partially or fully from budget in print and electronic media. In this regard, the amendments proposed give framework that provides equal chances for all media and limits discretional rights of heads of state and local bodies to redirect significant financal resources towards media with no clear criteria and procedure.

Amendments to the Law on Electronic Media should lead to the increase of the scope of own production in regard to broadcasters who use public resource (national frequency). More precisely, it is necessary to prescribe that holder of broadcasting approval may be an individual or a legal entity which in programme basis anticipates production of at least 20% of pwn programme content. Thus it would be ensured that approval for broadcast may be in possession of only sustainable AVM service providers who contribute to better informing of citizens and to media pluralism. Herewith, unloyal competition is also being prevented as well as the possibility for media who almost have none of their own production and employees to generate revenues from with the help of content with disputable quality. Finally, it is necessary to prescribe establishment of Fund for Promotion of Media Pluralism which would support production of content by which public interest in various forms is being fulfilled.

Amendments to the Law on Public Broadcasting Services of Montenegro need to introduce an obligation of performing a public discussion on programme documents adopted by the RTCG Council on annual level. This would improve transparency of RTCG’s work, but also strengthen relation of citizens with public service. Furthermore, it is necessary to increase the number of members of RTCG Council from the current 9 to 11, in order to enable larger reach of areas of public interest. Increase of number of candidates from NGOs would also increase independence of the Council as the highest governing body. Moreover, amendments to the laws would also increase responsibility of the RTCG Council and director general for results in financial operations as well as in programme content, and especially in news programme. Except the existing conditions in which Parliament dismisses the RTCG Council, this should also happen if, at the end of a calendar year, financial plan exceeds itself or business was conducted with a loss as well as if, at the end of a calendar year, RTCG finds itself on third place in trust of citizens according to public opinion research. This would introduce higher financial discipline and reduce possibility of irresponsible expenditure of taxpayers’ money. Furthermore, obligation of objectively informing citizens is being increased which is one of key objectives of a public service. Public opinion research must be conducted at least once per year, according to methodology adopted by the RTCG Council, in order to demonstrate whether RTCG justifies its role in society. Finally, it is necessary to prescribe also that directors of business units of Radio and Television are being elected with the approval of the Council. This could be a good mechanism to prevent all those candidates who by their professional engagement do not deserve to hold such responsible positions.

Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of the Centre for Civic Education (CCE)
Goran Đurović, Member of the RTCG Council