MONTENEGRO: Amendments to the Law on Public Service Broadcasting of Montenegro

MONTENEGRO, 02/10/2008

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned at several proposed amendments to the Public Service Broadcasting Law of Montenegro.  Although the draft amendments are generally in line with international standards on public broadcasting, a number of concerns have been identified.

The Radio Televizija Crna Gora – RTCG (Radio and Television of Montenegro) should be able to decide more freely over the use of their budget, except from funds from the state budget that are earmarked for certain functions, such as minority language programming.

The procedure for appointing members of the governing RTCG Council is problematic, as it does not ensure the independence of the public service broadcaster. Candidates for the RTCG Council are nominated by various institutions, including academic bodies, NGOs, sport organisations, and unions, but Parliament has the final say in deciding the candidate for each position. Since Parliament is responsible for this important decision, which could be influenced by party affiliation, mechanisms that ensure transparency and fairness, such as open hearings and the possibility for members of the public to voice their opinion, are essential. Also the staggering of the tenures of the individual members of the RTCG Council would help to ensure continuity.

According to SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic, “It is essential that the legal framework governing public service broadcasting ensures editorial independence and institutional autonomy. Before adopting the draft law, it would be important to take into account the relevant European and international documents relating to public service broadcasting.”

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