EFJ Protest to Serbian Prime Minister about broadcasting frequencies

Brussels, 3 May 2006


Mr Vojislav Kostunica

Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia

11 Nemanjina St., 11 000 Belgrade

By e-mail: predsednikvladesrbije@srbija.sr.gov.yu


Copy: Mr. Predrag Markovic

President

National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia

Kralja Milana St.

11 000 Belgrade


Mr Nenad Cekic,

President

Council of Republic Broadcasting Agency

Cika Ljubina 8/III

11000 Beograd

e-mail: rra@eunet.yu



Dear Mr Prime Minister,


The International Federation of Journalists and its regional group, the European Federation of Journalists, are concerned by the selection process for frequency allocation that took place recently in Serbia.


As you know, Serbia has been without any broadcasting regulation for years and this was supposed to end but now we see more chaos as major broadcasters such as BK TV are outlawed from one day to another without serious reason.


Many voices in Serbia, and in particular journalists, see the current process as biased with no respect for the public interest. We support our member organisations, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia (NUNS) and the Journalists’ Association of Serbia (UNS), the Journalists’ Union of Serbia the and Independent Trade Union of Media (Nezavisnost), in their calls for a further examination of the frequency allocations and to alert international organisations over the worrying developments in Serbia media.


On 20 April 2006, the Serbian Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA) allocated national broadcasting frequencies to several television and radio stations , after many years of no regulation. However, one of the long-established television networks, BK TV, saw its frequency revoked for 30 days due to a vague “violation of the Law on Broadcasting.”


Moreover, programmes of BK TV were interrupted in the middle of the night by police forces. The IFJ says that the use of the police to close down a media outlet is totally out of proportion with the situation and we ask the authorities for explanation on this case.


According to our member organisations, the process of allocating national broadcasting frequencies “gave priority to the interests of the most influential political parties and representatives of major capital over public interest” and the alleged violation of the law is not justified. We totally support this view and we insist on the respect for international standards on broadcasting.


We would be grateful if you would raise this very serious issue at the highest political level. We urge you to take all necessary measures to reorganise the frequency allocation process and to enforce media policies that are in line with international standards.


With Kind Regards



Aidan WHITE

General Secretary

European Federation of Journalists