Since the beginning of the year, the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) has launched 43 procedures to revoke the licenses of media companies that have not paid for media services, while three media outlets have already lost their broadcast licenses due to non-payment.
Representatives of the regulatory body say the reason for this mass launch of procedure is the fact that REM no longer has a sufficient budget to ensure its uninterrupted work, as was the case in previous years, and that broadcasters that do not pay bring into question REM’s functioning.
On the other hand, local media say that the fees they have to pay each month are too high and that the majority of them find it difficult to manage to pay them on time.
Local media companies have faced serious financing problems in recent years. Local markets are on the whole insufficiently developed to secure decent advertising revenue, while contests for project co-financing, through which local governments finance the production of media content of public interest, are often criticised for the non-transparent decision-making and favouring of media companies that support the policies of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party.
As such, the revocation of licenses by REM, a formally independent body that has repeatedly shown to be practically under the strict control of the government, is considered by some owners of electronic media companies as being a “new cleansing”, following the recent media privatization process that resulted in many local media outlets being shut down.
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