The media and the media sector in general are on the list of key areas identified by the Macedonian society and many international documents and reports that need to go through a process of thorough reforms, to ensure that Macedonia will be transformed into a truly democratic country with a pluralist and open society. The reforms of the media sector were included in the Report prepared by the group of senior experts led by Reinhardt Priebe, and also on the list of urgent democratic priority reforms prepared by the European Commission.
As a result of the talks facilitated and mediated by Belgian mediator Pieter Vanhoutte, in March 2016, five CSOs – organizations active in the area of media, professional associations and trade unions – presented the political parties with a draft-legislation proposing urgent changes to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services. The Draft-Law was endorsed by the then opposition in the Parliament and officially submitted for adoption by a group of MPs, in an urgent procedure. The Parliament, however, chose not to take the proposal into consideration, as it came right before the elections that were scheduled to take place one month later, in April 2016.
However, that Draft-Law has remained in play to this day, and the now ruling party has repeated on several occasions that it intended to submit it for adoption in its integral form, albeit, with the caveat that it was open to suggestions to amend certain provisions in it. The final version presented by the Ministry of Information Society and Administration as the Draft-Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services is generally true to such announcements. However, the fina version does list several additional provisions, primarily in the area of allocation of permits to broadcast programming services over the public electronic communication networks and the obligations of operators of public electronic communication networks.
This document offers the Media Development Centre’s comments to certain provisions of the Draft-Law. It includes, in particular, those provisions that we find unnecessary, provisions for which there may be better solutions, provisions that could cause harm to the media sector and freedom of expression in the country, because they fall out of commonly accepted legislative solutions and are opposed to internationally recognized standards.
In addition to its internal capacities, for the purposes of preparation of this document, MDC engaged the services of Klime Babunski, Ph.D, from association PRO MEDIA, expert in public service broadcasting and media policies.
This document was supported by the Civica Mobilitas Programme of the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the Media Development Centre and shall be not understood, in any way or fashion, to be representing the views of Civica Mobilitas, the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency, or implementing organizations.
The document is available for download at the following link:
Comments to the Draft-Law on changes and amendments to LAAVMS