Professional journalist associations and civil society organizations from the media sector are once again making the sharpest reaction regarding the way the Ministry of Information Society and Public Administration (MIOA) leads the process of public debate on the additional proposed amendments to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (LAAMS), which propose the re-introduction of the so-called state advertising in the country.
We are against the re-introduction of the practice of spending public money in private media, which in the past proved to be disastrous for the independent editorial policy of these media, for independent journalism, and for the state of the media market.
We are against legal solutions that favor only the interest of a part of the private media sector and neglect the critical role of journalism in democracy and the public interest of all citizens.
We emphasize that these solutions are completely contrary to the standards of the European Commission, and especially to the new proposal – Regulation on the freedom of the media, which clearly states that the European market is disturbed by the non-transparent and unfair distribution of public funds for state advertising, especially when they funds are preferentially allocated to leading national media or used to secretly favor or subsidize media that convey views close to the current government.
We are in favor of legal solutions that will encourage the diversity of quality content and support independent and professional journalism in both the non-profit and private sectors – and this is possible through the introduction of the Media Content Pluralism Fund.
We have the capacity, knowledge, and international experience to develop quality proposals that will improve the status of media workers, include all stakeholders in the industry without favoring parties, and all with the aim of strengthening the indisputable independence of journalistic activity.
What is particularly worrying is the tendency with which the Government, on the one hand, agrees and promises the private media sector that it will reintroduce this practice, and on the other hand, transfers the responsibility for what has not been introduced so far to the associations and organizations that are consistent in the principled position that they are against the practice of paying for campaigns in private media with public money. In addition, this proposal was made in a non-transparent manner without expert support and therefore it should be withdrawn.
For these reasons, we inform the public and the competent institutions that we will not participate in today’s public hearing organized by MIOA, which aims to show false transparency for a process for which there is not even a minimal consensus in society.
Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM)
Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM)
Council for Ethics in the Media of Macedonia (SEMM)
Macedonian Media Institute (MIM)
Institute for Social Development Research (RESIS)
Association of regional and local media “Medium Objective”
Institute for Communication Studies (ICS)