Montenegro’s media watchdog agency has limited the re-broadcasting of two Serbian pro-government TV stations which are deemed to be spreading hatred, intolerance and discrimination, the Montenegro state TV reported.
The Concil of the Agency for Electronic Media (SAEM) limited the re-broadcasting of content from TV Happy and TV Pink M for a period of three months for discrimination of Montenegrins, a statement said. “Since this is a public interest issue whose protection requires the implementation of measures to suppress this form of expression, the SAEM has decided that it is justified in limiting the re-broadcasting of some of their content,” it added. The statement listed talk shows on both stations which have been criticized for the nationalist rhetoric of both anchors and guests.
The Association of Serbia's Journalists (UNS) said on Tuesday the SAEM decision was unacceptable since it "violates the European Convention on Transfrontier Television and the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.
The SAEM said that the program content on both stations stimulated hatred, intolerance and discrimination against Montenegrins by using demeaning, offensive and upseting expressions, denying the national identity of Montenegrins. It warned that the two broadcasters have shown the intention of causing a reaction against the people that the disputed content is direct at, including possible violence.
The Serbian Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) said that the decision by its Montenegrin counterpart the SAEM to limit re-broadcasts of some shows on TV Happy and Pink M is open censorship and a violation of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. The REM acknowledged that the views expressed in those shows runs counter to the stands of official Podgorica but added that a whole series of shows would be banned in Serbia if that was taken as the main criteria.
The SAEM said it was not disputing the right of broadcasters to inform their audiences about issues of public interest but warned that the content that they aired daily denies and creates animosity against Montenegrins, abusing the right to freedom of expression.