Maja Pavlovic, the owner of TV Channel 9 form the northern city of Novi Sad has started hunger strike for the second time in 11 months asking the state institutions to do their job and enable the TV to work, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.
Her appeal is supported by the Coalition of Media and Journalists’ association which demanded the authorities to urgently solve the problems and asked colleagues to donate money to unblock the TV’s account.
The Coalition confirms the Channel 9 problems occur due to “state and judiciary undoing.”
“We are warning that the case of the Channel 9 is just an example of the position of local media in Serbia because different measures have been taken against all professional media to suppress them,” a Coalition statement said.
Pavlovic said her only demand was for "the state to start acting in line with its laws.”
She asked if that was "normal that after five years we still don’t have an administrative court ruling, is it normal that my initiative and an appeal with the Constitutional Court to look into the legality of the taxes implemented by the Serbian Music Authors’ Organisation (SOKOJ) and the Organisation of Phonograms Producers in Serbia (OFPS) still have no answer after three years?”
Pavlovic added she tried not to link TV’s problems to any political reason, but that now she thought “that this is a showdown with those who dare to ask,” and invited Prime Minister Ana Brnabic to support her in the hunger strike.
She says she will stop the strike when Channel 9 finally receives the rulings which it has been waiting for years.
The Coalition said it called on all journalists to investigate claims that the TVs close to the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic were not obliged to pay taxes to SOKOJ and OFPS since the organisations did not sue them, and that those media were not paying a rent for the state-owned premises they use.
The Independent society of Vojvodina’s Journalists (NDNV) published bank accounts numbers on its website for those who want to help Channel 9 to survive.
Vucic’s regime has often been criticised locally and internationally for media muzzling. The authorities rebuff the accusations, saying there are problems, but that the media in Serbia are free.