Comments from MIM and ICS to the Draft Law on AAVMS

Comments from the Macedonian Institute of Media (MIM) and the Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) to the Draft Law on Amending and Supplementing of the Law on Audio and Audivisual Media Services (Law on AAVMS)

September 11, 2017, Skopje

Dear Mr Manchevski,

We are hereby providing you with our comments and suggestions with an aim to improve the text of the Draft Law on Amending and Supplementing of the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (Law on AAVMS)

  • The draft law includes most of the remarks noted in our previous reactions and proposals for amendments to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services regarding the establishment and functioning of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (AAVMU) and the Public Service-MRT.

  • We propose that the mandate of the members of the AAVMU to be valid for the duration of 6 or 7 years, without the right of a renewal (Article 15 of the Law on AAVMS). That way, it will be impossible to "tie in" the position of a member in the long run, which is still a practice in the current council (considering that with each passing of a new law, some members of the council receive a new mandate).

  • We consider that Articles 62a and 62b in the draft law, which refer to the political pluralism in the news, in the debates, in the daily informative and contact shows are unnecessary and should be removed. It is necessary to engage in an expert debate to determine whether and how the political pluralism in the media content can be promoted through objective, impartial and balanced informing with equal treatment of different views (Article 61 of the present Law on AAVMS).

  •  We propose that in Article 16 of the Law on AAVMS (paragraph 2, in indents 1 and 2 – “terms of appointment”) an additional criterion should be inserted which will specify that the persons who performed or were active in the listed positions and functions in the past 5 years cannot be appointed as members of the AAVMU.

  • The same criterion should apply to the MRT Supervisory Board (Law on AAVMS, Article 127, indents 1 and 2), where we propose to insert a provision stipulating that persons listed below and who performed or were active in the listed positions and functions in the past 5 years cannot be appointed as members of the Board.

  • We believe that this will contribute to greater depolitization and departization of both the Council of the Agency and the governing bodies of MRT.

  • A clarification is necessary in relation to Article 29 of the Draft Law on AAVMS, which refers to Article 105, paragraph 3 of the Law on AAVMS (financing of MRT), which includes the funds generated from broadcasting audio and audiovisual commercial communications as an additional source of funds for MRT. It is necessary to specify exactly what is meant by "audio and audiovisual commercial communications", given that the draft law proposes the abolition of the broadcasting fee and the commercial advertising of the public service.

  •  We don’t support the abolition of the broadcasting fee and we believe that the financing of the Public Service from the State Budget is not the right solution. We believe that the improvement of the programme offer as well as the departization and depolitization of MRT's governing bodies will lead to improvements of the viewing ratings, along with improvements of the collection of payments of the broadcasting fee. The broadcasting fee is actually considered as a public fee in all European countries (apart from Bulgaria, Kosovo and Montenegro). We consider that it is necessary first to determine the needs of the public service from a programme and financial standpoint and (eventually) determine the amount of funds from the budget which will be used as a one-time aid (or used during a limited time-period) to assist MRT to strengthen its technical capacities. We’d like to remind you that the 2017 amendments to the Law on AAVMS envisage a separate channel broadcasted in Albanian language, for which there is currently no financial construction.

  •  The Parliamentary Channel should be entirely under the responsibility of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia. The public service should not be responsible for the editorial policy of this channel, and the channel should not be used for broadcasting programs other than content related to the work and functioning of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia.

Sincerely,

Macedonian Institute of Media
Institute of Communication Studies