news 05 Apr 13

State Funding of Serbia's Public Broadcaster Criticized

Media experts say plan to fund Serbia's public service broadcaster from the state budget will jeopardize its editorial independence.

Beta, B92, BIRN

Media organisations have criticized the Serbian Culture Ministry's plan for Radio Television of Serbia, RTS, to be financed from the state budget instead of from subscription fees.

Dragan Kolarevic, Assistant Culture Minister, on Wednesday said the Ministry was finishing a Law on Electronic Media that will alter the system of funding public service broadcasters.

The journalists association, NUNS, has criticized the plan, saying “it carries a risk of the state exerting influence on the public broadcasters’ editorial policies.

"Citizens need to be told that by eliminating subscriptions they will continue to pay for a public service, but indirectly, through the budget," NUNS said in a statement.

The association urged the Ministry to reconsider the options before deciding to introduce budget funding.

The OSCE and the European Commission are also opposed to budget funding as a permanent solution. However, they say they will wait for the draft law to be released before presenting their stances.

Rade Veljanovski, media professor and member of a working group on media laws, said budget funding will diminish the independence of broadcasters. He dismissed the announcement that licence fees would be abolished as “populist”.

“This type of political statement is populist in character and is aimed at increasing some politicians' popularity,” Veljanovski told Novi Sad Hungarian language daily Magyar Szo.

Serbia's public service TVs currently earn money through broadcasting commercials and collecting subscription fees, which are included in viewers' electricity bills.

Although the fee is only 500 dinars (about four euro) a month, only about 30 per cent of the population actually pay up, according to a latest data.

The director of RTS, Aleksandar Tijanic, has requested that the broadcaster be financed from the state budget owing to the endemic problem of collecting money through  subscription fees.

Talk about it!

blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Headlines:

24 Oct 16

Belgrade Jews Oppose WWII Serbian Leader’s Rehabilitation

The Jewish Community of Belgrade said it would use all legal means to prevent the rehabilitation of Milan Nedic, Serbia’s Nazi-backed WWII-era prime minister, arguing that he participated in the Holocaust.

24 Oct 16

Clinton-Trump Battle Divides Bosnian Capital

24 Oct 16

The Balkans Today: 24th - 28th October 2016

24 Oct 16

Traces of Empire: Serbia’s Roman Heritage

Premium Selection

24 Oct 16

Syria Returnee Wants to Help Kosovo’s Would-be Warriors

Albert Berisha, who returned to Kosovo after briefly joining fighters in Syria, has set up an NGO to help other returnees - and those mulling following the path that he once took.

24 Oct 16

Pavo Barisic, New Croatian Minister Dogged by his Past

New Croatian minister Pavo Barisic will have to hit the ground running and fend off the slew of accusations being made against him.

24 Oct 16

Traces of Empire: Serbia’s Roman Heritage

20 Oct 16

Bosnian War Rape Victims Rue Lost Motherhood