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Media organisations concerned over adoption of statute authorising Belgrade to establish media outlets

(ANEM/IFEX) - The following is a 22 October 2008 joint press release by ANEM and other media organisations:

NUNS, UNS, NDNV, ANEM AND LOKAL PRESS SUBMIT INITIATIVE ON CONSTITUTIONALITY AND LEGALITY OF THE STATUTE OF BELGRADE

Belgrade, Serbia, October 22nd, 2008 - The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia (NUNS), Journalists' Association of Serbia (UNS), Independent Journalists' Association of Vojvodina (NDNV), the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) and the Association of Independent Local Media "Lokal Press", greatly regret that the Assembly of the City of Belgrade has adopted on October 17, 2008 the Statute of the City of Belgrade which in Article 26, paragraph 1, point 5 specifies that the city has the authority to establish television and radio stations, newspapers and other mass media outlets.

This situation, which is contrary to the proposals put forth by the NUNS, UNS, NDNV, ANEM and "Lokal Press", has led to the city of Belgrade having a Statute that violates Article 14, paragraph 2 of the Law on Public Information, which states that media outlets cannot be founded, directly or indirectly, by the state, a territorial autonomous region, or any institution, company or other legal entity which is predominantly owned by the state or which is predominantly or partially financed from state revenues, unless specified otherwise by a special law regulating the area of broadcasting.

The adopted statute is contrary to Article 195, paragraph 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. It is detrimental to the citizens of Belgrade, who will also have to pay - aside from the subscription fee for the national public service broadcaster - all expenses of the city media outlets, without being asked for their opinion on the subject. The adopted solution is also detrimental to further development of the existing city media outlets - Radio and TV Studio B - because it supports the unacceptable standpoint that serving citizens can be realized solely through the ownership and control of the media.

NUNS, UNS, NDNV, ANEM and "Lokal Press" restate their determination to submit to the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia an initiative to commence proceedings on the constitutionality and legality of the Statute of the City of Belgrade and, in the same initiative, to request the Constitutional Court to suspend, until its final decision, the execution of any individual act or deed undertaken on the basis of the disputed article 26, paragraph 1, point 5 of the Statute. The public will be informed on the submission of the initiative and its content in due time.

President of NUNS, Nadezda Gace
President of UNS, Nino Brajovic
President of NDNV, Dinko Gruhonjic
President of ANEM, Sasa Mirkovic
President of the Managing Board of "Lokal Press", Vladan Filipcev

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