Journalists’ associations oppose disputed provisions in new draft media laws

September 17, 2023

The adoption of new media laws regulating public information and electronic media seems to have entered the final phase, albeit with significant delays. Drafts of both laws are currently being subjected to public debate that includes the participation of representatives of the state, journalists’ and media associations and the expert public.

The first public debate, held in Belgrade, showed that – when it comes to individual proposed provisions – a deep gulf of opinion exists between the expert public, media and journalists’ associations, on one side, and the state, on the other.

The proposal stipulating that the state could once again be the (co)owner and founder of media outlets is by far the greatest point of contention between the state and the associations and expert public. Similarly, the state is also being criticised for its unwillingness to legislate adherence to ethical standards as a crucial criterion in the awarding of public funding in media financing contests, which means that the state intends to continue awarding such funds to media companies that violate the Journalists’ Code and are simultaneously in close relations with the authorities. Also in dispute is the fact that – in contradiction of the Media Strategy adopted by the Government of Serbia – the draft of the new law on electronic media does not stipulate a change to the complete composition of the Council of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media, the work of which has provoked a large number of objections from the expert public.