The International Federation of Journalists today gave its broad support to the principles in the Draft Broadcasting Law approved by the Serbian Government in early April, and currently presented to the Serbian Parliament.
The draft law foresees the transformation of Radio-Television Serbia into a public service broadcaster, as well as the establishment of a Broadcasting Agency. These two main measures are fundamental steps on the way to a democratic and independent broadcasting framework in the Republic of Serbia, says the IFJ.
Although the IFJ welcomed the principles contained in the draft, the Federation took note of comments made by the Council of Europe, which is seeking a number of clarifications and amendments to further strengthen the law.
"We share the Council's concerns, but we also see that this law is needed as soon as possible", said Aidan White, General Secretary of the IFJ. "After a careful examination of the comments of the Council of Europe, this law should be adopted by the Parliament in order to provide the Republic of Serbia with a regulatory framework in line with international standards".
Nevertheless, the IFJ is calling for further action to strengthen regulation and to enhance professionalism. There is a need to apply measures for a fair and efficient implementation of the law in order to guarantee the independence of the broadcasting in Serbia. "Experience in other countries proves that the legal framework is essential for a pluralistic and independent broadcasting, but that the concrete application also has to be ensured for journalists and media workers", said the IFJ.
These include secure financing, sound and transparent management, quality content thanks to training and adequate salary and joint development of editorial code/guidelines by the management and the staff. The IFJ says that the Declaration of Zagreb, adopted in 1999 by journalists from South-Eastern Europe, which sets out minimum standards for editorial independence and professionalism, is a sound basis for new rules.