SERBIA, SERBIA, 09/08/2006
The Vienna based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute, welcomes Serbian President Boris Tadic´s refusal to promulgate legislative amendments to the Broadcasting Law passed by the Serbian Assembly on 19 July 2006.
SEEMO also fully supports the views expressed by the OSCE Mission to Serbia, which "called upon the Serbian Assembly to reconsider the urgent procedure of adopting amendments to the broadcasting law and allow time for public discussion."
SEEMO believes that, if these amendments are signed into law, they will make the Republic Broadcasting Agency financially dependent on the government in clear violation of the regulatory body's need for independence. In addition, although broadcasters may appeal, they are obliged to execute the regulatory body's decision without delay; the failure to do so leads to a compulsory enforcement procedure of the Council's decision.
Commenting on the situation, SEEMO Secretary-General, Oliver Vujovic said, "The proposed amendmends to the Broadcasting Law jeopardize freedom of expression and seriously limit the right to fair proceedings and the use of legal remedies, particularly the right to appeal against a decision of the Republic Broadcasting Agency."
"For these reasons I welcome the decision of the Serbian President Boris Tadic to exercise his Constutional right and refuse to sign these amendments into the Broadcasting law. I also hope that in the next parliamentary session, in September or October 2006, Parliament will once again debate these amendments and take into considaration all domestic and international reactions by professional media organisations."