Centre for Civic Education (CCE) commends the decision of the Parliament of Montenegro to act by amendments to the Proposal of Law on State Administration and thus transfer the independent regulator – Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) into public administration system from the framework of newly established state agencies, putting them under direct control of the Government. The solution that the Government has been proposing was not good, to which CCE has been the first to point out.
As a reminder, right upon determining this Law proposal, at the Government’s session from 20/9/2018, the CCE warned of dangers of the proposed provisions which would weaken the independency of the regulator in the media area. Moreover, we have pointed out the opposition of this solution to the relevant Audio-Visual Media Services Directive of the European Union (AVMSD), which was in the adoption process at that time, and which the members of Working Group for drafting this Law must have been familiar with as well. This Directive was even adopted at the beginning of November 2018, and it indisputably puts the accent to strengthening of independency of regulator, contrary to provisions proposed by the Government. Application of this Directive is an obligation of Montenegro within the accession negotiation processand on the basis of the same, the Law on Electronic Media shall be further amended, as it was announced also from the Ministry of Culture.
Time has proven that CCE’s arguments were substantiated even though the Ministry of Public Administration has easily dismissed it.It is good that, after the CCE’s reaction, other stakeholders declared themselves on the occasion of it, especially the Agency for Electronic Media itself.
The adopted Law on State Administrationleaves space for interpretations, but the Agency for Electronic Media (AEM) has in this manner retained the possibility, as well as the obligation, to perform its jurisdiction impartially, transparently and in the public interest, with the functional work independency.
CCE will continue to follow this issue with due attention, and to also simultaneously insist on independent work of AEM and decision-making in the public interest.
Ana Nenezic, Programme Coordinator