Media strategy controversies continue

January 21, 2018

According to the latest announcements, Serbia should receive a working version of the media strategy at the end of January or in early February, as the document that will provide the basis to amend media laws and tailor the media scene over the coming five years.

The text of the strategy, the finalising of which has been delayed by more than a year, was written by a working group that originally comprised 15 members, only for various reasons to lead in recent months to four members withdrawing from the working group, including three representatives of the country’s seven largest media and journalists’ associations.

The working group was eventually left without virtually a single journalist, which brings the quality of the document into question. State Secretary for the Media at the Ministry of Information, Aleksandar Gajović, has repeated on several occasions that the “doors are open” for the withdrawn members of the working group to return, but the associations announced that this will not happen.

Specifically, it was precisely the inclusion of Gajović in the working group that the Association of Journalists of Serbia cited as the reason for their representative to leave the group “in a sign of protest against his sexist statement”. Gajović recently apologised to “everyone who his statement hurt”, which the UNS considered “ridicule”, which they say is the reason why they will not re-join.

The same announcement came from the Media Coalition, which gathers together the representatives of five associations. They don’t consider the invitation of the Ministry to be genuine because, in the words of the minister himself, this document has already been 90% completed, “which brings into question the purpose of our returning, considering the timeframes”, the Coalition states.

They add that they do not want “to be decorations in a working group that is dominated by representatives of the state and associations and individuals close to it”, nor to give legitimacy to solutions that they consider as being contrary to the interests of the media community. They also announced that they will work in parallel on an “alternative media strategy” that should provide proposals for the resolving of key problems afflicting the domestic media.