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news 07 Aug 13

Serbia's RTS Returns to State Funding

Public broadcaster RTS said it could not survive on TV licence fees and advertising revenue, but the return to state funding raised concerns about possible political influence.

BIRN, Beta
Belgrade

With the number of people paying their TV licence fees falling and RTS staff unpaid for months, the station’s chief Aleksandar Tijanic has secured long-term financial assistance from the government for the first time in a decade.

Serbia’s assistant culture minister Dragan Kolarevic said that the government will allocate budget funds for public service broadcasters RTS and RTV for the next two years.

He also said that there would be a mechanism for transferring the funds which would prevent any political meddling.

"The bill on public media broadcasters is going to introduce a mechanism whereby the money will be transferred from the budget so that so no one can influence it, meaning that these outlets will be independent in that sense," Kolarevic explained.

According to Kolarevic, at the end of the two-year period, there will be a decision on a new funding model which will specify whether the media outlets are financed by subscriptions or fees.

But Vukasin Obradovic, president of the journalists' association NUNS, told Balkan Insight that funding RTS from the state budget “will open a Pandora’s box”.

He said that other local and regional media outlets would start complaining and asking for state funding too.

Serbia’s national media strategy also envisions that the state will withdraw from media ownership by 2014.

According to the latest data, only 30 per cent of people in Serbia have been paying their TV licence fee of five euro a month.

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