The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM) is sounding the alarm about the procedure of the city of Skopje, which through public procurement plans to invest citizens’ funds for campaigns in private television and online media for the promotion of the city’s activities.
According to the announcement for public procurement, available on the Electronic System for Public Procurement, the city of Skopje plans to invest almost 5 million denars for “Preparation and implementation of promotion campaigns for special projects for the activities of the city of Skopje” through a marketing agency. We point out that with this way of financing media, the City of Skopje violates the moratorium on banning public campaigns in private media and directly violates Article 102 of the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services on the ban on advertising, as well as the Government’s Decision on the ban on advertising in traditional and online media since 2017.
The practice of paying public campaigns with citizens’ money, apart from being illegal, may encourage other local self-government units to apply it, which would further disrupt the fragile media market, and threaten the independence of the media by supporting “friendly media’ and ignoring those who are critical.
We remind you that the expensively paid public campaigns through which space would be bought selectively by the Government and local authorities is not a way to support the media, but can turn into an attempt to corrupt them and at the same time promote political-party agendas that do not are of public interest.
That is why AJM has been insisting for more than two years on the creation of a Fund for Free Media, through which projects of public interest will be supported. Only in this way can a chance be given for objective support of quality journalistic products, which will enable the financing of projects for investigative and analytical journalism, but also for the production of a documentary, educational, entertainment, and educational content. This is the only way the Government and local authorities sincerely want to help professional journalism, at the same time contribute to improving the income of journalists and media workers, and thus raising the social standard in the media sector.