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IPI and SEEMO concerned over proposed amendments to Public Service Broadcasting Law

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is a press release by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an IPI affiliate:

IPI/SEEMO Expresses Concern at Proposed Amendments to the Public Service Broadcasting Law of Montenegro

Vienna, 3 October 2008

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists from South East Europe and an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is concerned at several proposed amendments to the Public Service Broadcasting Law of Montenegro. Although the draft amendments are generally in line with international standards on public broadcasting, a number of provisions are problematic.

Radio Televizija Crna Gora (Radio and Television of Montenegro) (RTCG) should be able to decide more freely over the use of its own budget, except from funds from the state budget that are earmarked for certain functions, such as minority-language programming.

The procedure for appointing members of the governing RTCG Council is problematic, as it does not ensure the independence of the public service broadcaster. Candidates for the RTCG Council are nominated by various institutions, including academic bodies, NGOs, sport organisations, and unions, but Parliament has the final say in deciding the candidate for each position. Since Parliament is responsible for an important decision that could be influenced by party affiliation, mechanisms that ensure transparency and fairness, such as open hearings and the possibility for members of the public to voice their opinion, are essential.

Commenting on the proposed amendments to the public broadcasting law, SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic said, "It is essential that the legal framework governing public service broadcasting ensures editorial independence and institutional autonomy. Before adopting the draft law, it would be important to take into account the relevant European and international documents relating to public service broadcasting."

Updates alert on the public broadcasting law:

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