Ministry of Culture deceives the public

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) assesses that Ministry of Culture is deceiving the public of Montenegro by claiming that ‘Government of Montenegro does not wish to determine this and other legal texts without previous recommendations, i.e. expert assessments contained both in the analysis of the Council of Europe, and the necessary expert opinions by the European Commission‘. Precisely the pressure on Working Group for development of the Draft Media Law to exert its task through quick and intensive process, but without clear strategy, denies allegations of Ministry of Culture. After all, if this is all as the Ministry of Culture is publicly claiming, why the rush to, at the expense of quality, out of the sight of the public, finish the work on a legal text which was not changed for more than 15 years now for less than two months, and maybe even prior to publishing of the analysis of the European Commission and the Council of Europe?

Working group was imposed with obligation to prepare the Draft Media Law until 10 April 2018, whereby the authorised Ministry of Culture entered this process without any previously prepared assessment which would indicate problems in the application of the current Law, without defined methodology of work and without offered proposals for solutions for improvement of the existing state of affairs.

On the other hand, as per request of the Government, the EU has, within joint project with the Council of Europe, financed production of an independent comprehensive analysis done by renowned international experts. This analysis might be also a basis for production of a media strategy which Prime Minister Dusko Markovic has announced in his expose, and on which nothing was done even after a year and a half. Ministry of Culture is familiar with the fact that this analysis will be publicly presented in the first half of April, as well as that it should serve as instruction in which direction developments should be going and which principles should be upheld in order to obtain the best legal solutions harmonised with international standards.

It is clear that upon 15 years of application of the current Law, it was necessary, during preparation of the new Media Law, to previously check in detail and in coordinated manner all laws impacting the media sector, to prepare Media Strategy with accompanying action plan, and then determine responsibilities and only after that to enter into amending the media laws. This especially if we consider the entire state of the media scene, numerous problems and open issues, but also assessments of relevant international organisations.

The so far conduct of the Ministry of Culture is not going in that direction. On the contrary, it is being resorted to ad hoc solutions which will neither bring anything new and significant for media community, nor will improve the framework which media operate in, and we express concern also that some of the so far proposed solutions are threatening also to jeopardise the media freedoms.

Ana Nenezić, Programme Coordinator and member of WG for development of Draft Media Law