AJM: Referendum is being abused in order to restore government financed campaigns in the media


       
Skopje, 9 August, 2018 - 18:00 (META) 

A delegation of the Macedonian Journalists Association met with representatives of the OSCE/ODIHR observation mission to discuss changes to the Electoral Code and the referendum, which have a direct impact on the media, the AJM informs.

AJM President Naser Selmani stressed that the government and the opposition are abusing the referendum to secure funding for their own political propaganda purposes for a future election campaign with public-money, causing huge damage to media freedom and professional journalism.

Selmani maintains that “the legal solution brings back government’s campaigns from the time of Gruevski’s regime, when with public money the government conducted a media campaigns for the alleged success of their work”.

He believes that “paying for political propaganda in the media with public money will strengthen the corrupt ties between the parties and the media, and will influence media coverage concerning the political system in the country”. According to Selmani, the international community should put pressure on the government after the referendum has been held, and these changes should be erased from the Electoral Code.

It is absolutely unacceptable to Selmani that government officials make political and financial pressure on Macedonian radio-television at a time when they are loudly advocating reform of the public service.

Dragan Sekulovski, Director of AJM criticized the conduct of the State Election Commission, which, contrary to good European practices, is trying to take over the responsibilities of the Media Agency by online media registration. Sekulovski believes that the SEC can not evaluate online media coverage concerning the referendum and possibly punish them for allegedly unbalanced reporting.