5 April 2013 The participants of the public hearing (photo TANJUG)

5 April 2013 The participants of the public hearing (photo TANJUG)

Friday, 5 April 2013

Public Hearing Held on Public Information and Media Draft Law

Today, the National Assembly hosted a public hearing on the Draft Law on Public Information and the Media, organised by the Culture and Information Committee and opened by the Committee Chairperson, Vesna Marjanovic.

The participants of the public hearing were first addressed by the Minister of Culture and Information, Bratislav Petkovic, who stressed that the Draft Law envisages the realisation of public interest, abolition of direct budgetary funding and introduction of project financing and added that, after four debates, this is the first time that a draft law of this kind defines the term of the media and the citizens’ public interest.
Assistant Minister of Culture and Information Dragan Kolarevic announced that the bills on public information and the media and on the electronic media would be forwarded to the National Assembly in May.
Prof. Dr Rade Veljanovski of the Faculty of Political Sciences mentioned that the Draft Law complies with the European regulatory framework, stressing that one of its main advantages is the possibility of project financing where the public authorities do not influence the editorial concept of the media, which at the same time ensures the realisation of public interest.
Sandra Basic Hrvatin, European Union independent expert, briefed the participants on the European Commission’s opinion on the Draft Law listing the regulation of the work of public services, state assistance and the media owned by national minorities were the focus of the discussion. She highlighted the intent achieved by the Daft Law which is quality information at all levels, the same rules of operation and transparent funding for all media.
Zoran Sekulic presented the joint position of the Media Coalition and Media Association pointing out, among other things, the need for consistent adherence to the provision according to which the state should withdraw from media ownership by 31 December 2014.
The Provincial Assistant Secretary for Culture and Information and member of the Working Group for the preparation of the Draft Law on Public Information, Kalman Kuntic, listed the positive regulations envisaged by the Draft Law, at the same time drawing attention to the fact that the Draft Law is discriminatory toward local self-government bodies because it proposes one media funding model at all levels.
In the ensuing discussion, the MPs, representatives of the media and media associations, as well as the representatives of international organisations discussed the issue of media ownership, the right to found national minority media, the influence of politics on the media and the status of media employees. The participants focused on the impact the Draft Law, if adopted in its present form, would have on the wok of local media where many of the representatives of local media associations warned that the independent media funding project would put their survival in jeopardy
Concluding the public hearing, Committee Chairperson Vesna Marjanovic said that the matter needs to be regulated by a stable normative and unambiguous context which will secure the independence of the media and the citizens’ right to free and correct information.
The public hearing was organised with the support of UNDP and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

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