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ANEM opposes cable operators' limits on local media content

(ANEM/IFEX) - Belgrade, July 15, 2011 – The Association of Independent Electronic Media condemns cable operators' unacceptable practice of removing programs of local TV stations with valid broadcasting licenses from their local packages, as has been the case with VK TV in Kikinda and TV K9 in Novi Sad.

ANEM considers that it is unacceptable that cable operators, justifying their actions with economic or technical excuses, limit citizens' rights to enjoy a wide range of media content, especially when it comes to their right to be informed about regional and local issues via local media.

ANEM reminds operators that the Draft Media Strategy, put to public debate by the Ministry of Culture, Media and the Information Society, includes a commitment by the Republic of Serbia to oblige dominant operators to broadcast certain content precisely with the aim of guaranteeing the citizens' right to be informed about issues of regional and local importance.

ANEM calls on the Serbian government to immediately adopt the Media Strategy and to modify the legal framework in order to prevent the cable distribution system from being transformed into an obstacle to freedom of information. ANEM also urges regulatory bodies for broadcasting and electronic communications to consider the possibility of introducing conditions for the issuance of cable licenses and the broadcasting of media content in a way that would entail obligatory quotas for the broadcast of regional and local programs, especially for those with valid licenses for terrestrial broadcasting.

ANEM considers the cable operators' practice of applying unequal business conditions to the same services with regard to various market participants, giving preference only to certain TV stations, to be unacceptable. As a rule, this practice almost always works against local TV stations with valid licenses for terrestrial broadcasting.

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