Media laws adopted despite objections among journalists’ associations and citizens

November 1, 2023

The National Assembly of Serbia has adopted two new laws on the media – regulating public information and electronic media – that the Serbian government has dubbed “revolutionary”, while journalists’ associations and the civil sector have been highly critical of them and attempted to prevent their adoption in the form proposed until the final hour.

On the eve of voting on these laws, the Coalition for Media Freedom, which apart from journalists’ and media associations also includes the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation and organisation Crta, launched a petition demanding, among other things, the removal from the proposed media laws of provisions enabling state-owned companies like Telekom Srbija to be founders of media outlets. The state-owned telecommunications company has previously already founded media companies, despite that not being permitted under the previous law.

More than 7,000 citizens signed the petition in less than 24 hours, including renowned journalists, lawyers and citizens, but it was ignored by the MPs of the ruling majority.

Critics of the new laws are of the opinion that restoring the state’s ownership of media companies will have an even greater impact on stifling the fragile media pluralism that exists in Serbia. Their other complaints, which were also dismissed, relate to the government’s stance that the adoption of the law shouldn’t mean changing the current composition of the regulatory body for electronic media, the work of which has prompted a large number of complaints.