The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (ITUJMW), the Macedonian Media Institute (MIM) and the Council for Media Ethics (CME) reiterate their strong opposition for possible changes to Article 102 of The Law on Audio and Audio-visual Media Services, which would allow advertising of public institutions in the media.
AJM, ITUJMW, MIM and CME consider that it is inadmissible for the situation in the media industry to be returned to the level of four years ago when astronomical sums were paid in the media in non-transparent manner without any criteria. This practice that we opposed was assessed as bad example of state bribery of the media and contributed to the deterioration of the situation in the media and increased bias in their reporting.
This reaction of the four organizations follows yesterday’s announcement by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev that “soon a proposal will be given by MISA to repeal Article 102, i.e. its change so that we can help the media by reaching agreements with public companies, municipalities and the like, in terms of their transparency and implementation of their decisions such as board meetings, councils, etc.”
We remind you that this statement of the Prime Minister is contrary to Government policies, but also to the previous election promises of SDSM that there will be no public money in private media that have been many times repeated publicly.
We believe that if such proposal is accepted, it will not bring any improvement in the situation in the media and freedom of information, but on the contrary, it will further disrupt the already vulnerable media market and strengthen clientelism. Let us recall that the citizens’ money ended up in private accounts, but was not spent on improving the quality of the program and content of public interest, nor on higher salaries of media workers.
AJM, ITUJMW, MIM and CME are not against certain financial support for the media, whose main task should be to protect the public interest and the interest of the citizens. However, we believe that this assistance should arise from previous public debate and be guided by the principle – “assistance to professional journalism” i.e. funds should be used exclusively for projects of public interest, based on previous public competitions and for improving the socio-economic situation of journalists and media workers.