Serbia to Honour Deadlines on Media Withdrawal

Deputy minister says new government will stick to Media Strategy and end its control of media once the necessary legislation is in place, and after public debate.In his first address since becoming Deputy Culture Minister, Dragan Kolarevic said that the state intended to withdraw from media ownership by the timeframe set out in the country’s Media Strategy.“According to the Media Strategy it is clear that the state must withdraw from media ownership and we will try to meet the deadlines,” Kolarevic told a round table entitled “Media Strategy – What next?” on Wednesday.

The Media Strategy, adopted in September 2011 as part of Serbia’s EU integration agenda, envisions state withdrawal from media ownership within 24 months of “establishing the legal basis” for this.

The state currently holds 50 per cent of the shares in Serbia’s oldest daily newspaper, Politika, and numerous local media across Serbia.

According to Kolarevic, the state will start withdrawing from ownership after consultations with media experts and a public debate on the issue.

Serbia now has two public broadcasters, national RTS and provincial RTV in Vojvodina.

Instead of this, the new government has pledged to form six regional public service broadcasters based in Belgrade, Novi Sad, Nis, Novi Pazar, Uzice and Zajecar.

Kolarevic said that the government was now working on a draft law on these regional public broadcasters.

Some media experts and journalists’ associations have objected to the idea of establishing six regional public service broadcasters.

Dejan Miladinovic, president of Local Press (Association of Local Independent Media), said it could pose a threat to local media based in towns that will not have a regional public service broadcaster.

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