The Serbian Government Anti-Corruption Council said that it is in the public interest for the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) to explain, in detail, the criteria that REM members were guided by when they voted to award national broadcasting licenses.
The explanation that the decision was made “by a two-thirds majority in a secret vote” is insufficient, the Anti-Corruption Council said, noting that independent, objective and professional media are one of the pillars of the struggle for democracy, rule of law and efficient fight against corruption.
Recalling its earlier reports on the transformation of media, the Council said that non-transparent ownership and funding, the use of public funds to finance the media as well as political influence and some journalists’ unprofessional work have led to the tabloidization of media and to biased reporting, said an Anti-Corruption Council press release.
The Council said that over the past few years the media scene in Serbia has additionally deteriorated and that the Media Strategy has given no results, which Serbian professional journalism associations and many serious foreign institutions are constantly pointing to.
Today we have confronted media and confronted citizens, and the public interest has been neglected, the Council said.
In awarding the national broadcasting licenses, the media’s previous work should have been one of the main criteria, the Council said.
The credibility of the media that failed to fulfill the obligations they undertook when they were issued licenses is questionable and there are no guarantees that this will not happen again, the Anti-Corruption Council warned.
If whether and how many times the television stations that had national broadcasting licenses violated the law, rules, the code of conduct and the code of ethics is something that the REM sees as irrelevant, then the much needed principle of responsibility is annulled and professional and expert associations are rendered pointless.
The Council believes that there was no reason to delay the award of the fifth broadcasting license because that only paves the way for all kind of manipulation, the Council press release said.