The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European counterpart EFJ, say they support the demands by Maja Pavlovic, the owner of a local TV in Serbia, who has been on hunger strike for 16 days, to adjust costs of regional TVs to their income and for President Aleksandar Vucic to see her, the Beta news agency reported on Tuesday.
“Maja Pavlović, the owner of the independent regional TV Kanal 9 in Serbia, has been on hunger strike for 14 days to protest against the economic pressure facing the broadcaster. The International and European Federations of Journalists (IFJ-EFJ) join their Serbian affiliates NUNS, SINOS and UNS in backing Maja Pavlović's demands,” the organisation said in a statement , a day after NUNS asked them to help.
The statement added that “with this hunger strike, the third in 15 months, Pavlović denounces the excessive fees charged by the music authors' organisation (SOKOJ), the phonogram producers' organisation (OFPS), the regulatory authority for electronic media (REM) and the Broadcast Network Operator (ETV). She demands more affordable fees for local broadcasters to be consistent with their income. She also requested a meeting with Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vučić.
The IFJ and EFJ statement also mentioned that the Independent Union of Serbia’s Journalists (NUNS) wrote to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman and the Rapporteur for Serbia David McAllister that “unreasonable regulations decisions of state authorities" and believes that "resolving the demands of Pavlovic would significantly facilitate the economic position of all local and regional broadcasters, especially those with an independent editorial policy that objectively, critically and impartially inform citizens."
McAllister was in Belgrade on Monday, meeting both the Government and opposition leaders, but statements following the talks did not mention the case of the hunger-striking journalist.
Earlier this month, Pavlovic said she “addressed ministries, then the Prime Minister because the ministries said they were not in charge. Then we thought the Prime Minister would coordinate that. We heard of the initiative by Vucic to meet with us and hear about the problem. We’re also initiating a meeting with Vucic to hear the ideas towards the court decision,” she said.
Pavlovic first went on a hunger strike in May this year, claiming that her TV channel and many other media outlets in Serbia were threatened because of the inaction of the state institutions.
Among her nine demands, she requested from Novi Sad Mayor Milos Vucevic, of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by President Aleksandar Vucic, to stop discriminating the independent Channel 9 which existed 20 years and provide it with equal access to state media funds.
Pavlovic had ended a 23-day long hunger strike after meeting PM Ana Brnabic, who then said the hunger strike was “serious blackmail.”
Now after she started a new strike, Pavlovic said a new meeting with Brnabic would bring nothing good because she said she did everything she could do.
Pavlovic also said she was maintaining the contact with State Secretary Aleksandar Gajovic.
“Gajovic contacted me this morning to ask me how I am. He told me he had no information from the President’s cabinet; he asked me to end the strike because the health comes first, but I won’t give up until doctors tell me so,” she stressed.
“Something’s wrong in the judiciary, all the procedures in which the state seeks its rights are efficiently done, which means that the state can function. That’s why it bothers me why the procedures in which I seek my rights last so long,” said Pavlovic, adding she was sure that many citizens of Serbia are facing the same problems.