SERBIA: Electronic media in Serbia

SERBIA, 21/11/2001

To:  Zoran Djindjic

Prime Minister
Republic of Serbia
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Fax: + 381 11 3617 - 609

Dragisa Pesic
Prime Minister, FR Yugoslavia

Savo Markovic
Minister of Justice, FR Yugoslavia

Bozidar Milovic
Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, FR Yugoslavia

Slobodan Orlic
Federal Secretary of Information, FR Yugoslavia

Marija Raseta-Vukosavljevic
Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Serbia, FRY

Vladan Batic
Minister of Justice, Serbia, FRY   

Your Excellency,

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South Eastern Europe, and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned about the position of the electronic media in Serbia one year after the political change in Belgrade.

According to the information supplied to SEEMO, the legal framework of the operation of the independent electronic media in Serbia is no better than the one in place during the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, while conditions for healthy competition on equal terms for all electronic media in Serbia are still non-existent. Most members of the Association of Independent Electronic Media in Serbia (ANEM) are still working as "pirate" stations. Of the 64 stations in the ANEM radio network, only 31 are licensed. Only 11 of the 40 stations in ANEM's television network have been granted licences. This makes development and planning impractical and prevents stations from seeking stable sources of finance.

SEEMO urges Your Excellency to use your authority and political influence to facilitate an immediate adoption of new media and telecommunications regulations, particularly the proposed Broadcasting Act that was drafted by local experts with international consultation. We believe that the adoption of this Act will be the key step in establishing the proper relationship between the political authorities and the media, and that it will reinforce media independence, which is an important factor for democratisation in Serbia.

We also ask you to start the process of transforming the state media, including Radio Television Serbia (RTS), into public service media, and to establish an independent regulatory body authorized to allocate transmission frequencies.

Finally, SEEMO calls for the immediate granting of temporary licences to independent electronic media in Serbia. Such licences would be valid until the frequency allocation procedure under the new legislation has been completed.

Yours sincerely,

Oliver Vujovic

Secretary General

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