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ANEM urges government to appoint director of company tasked with assisting transition to digital broadcasting

(ANEM/IFEX) - Belgrade, May 24, 2010 - In its statement issued today, the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) demanded that the Government of the Republic of Serbia without further delay appoint a director of the Public Company "Broadcasting Equipment and Communications", which would unblock the currently stalled preparations for the upcoming digitalization of television broadcasting.

ANEM recalls that the Government adopted on July 2, 2009 the Strategy for Transition from Analog to Digital Broadcasting of Radio and TV Programs in the Republic of Serbia. One of the main preconditions for this Strategy and its implementation within the planned deadlines was the separation of the broadcasting system from Radio and Television Serbia (RTS) into a new public company and its full operational capability in the role of the future network and multiplex operator.

The Public Company "Broadcasting Equipment and Communications" was founded at the end of last year, but as long as the appointed director has the status of an acting director and limited authority, the company cannot make a full contribution to preparations for digitalization, nor make a use of allocated funds from the pre-accession funds of the European Union for this purpose. The lack of a functioning operator and partner in preparations for digitalization means that TV stations cannot plan their assignments during the transition process.

On May 20, 2010, ANEM held a workshop for its members on the issue of the upcoming digitalization and its implications for local and regional broadcasters, with the aim to inform them about new obligations and new possibilities created by the digitalization of television broadcasting. The workshop was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Society, regulatory bodies (the Republic Broadcasting Agency and the Republic Agency for Telecommunications) and the Public Company "Broadcasting Equipment and Communications".

The joint conclusion of the workshop was that the implementation of the action plan and the Strategy of Digitalization was already behind schedule, but that the specified deadlines, including April 4, 2012 as the final date of shutting down the network of analog transmitters, are still attainable, but only if full operational capability of the Public Company "Broadcasting Equipment and Communications" is immediately achieved, i.e. if the Government appoints the director of the public company who would have full authority.

ANEM appeals to the Government of the Republic of Serbia to appoint the director without further delay in order to preserve the media scene in Serbia, as well as to protect citizens' right to have free access to information about the things they are interested in and the right to be informed about, unhindered by broadcast digital signals from the neighboring countries after the completion of the digital transition.

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