The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), the Independent Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM), the Council for Ethics in the Media of Macedonia (SEMM), the Macedonian Institute for Media (MIM) and the Institute for Communication Studies (ICS) have condemned the way in which the State Election Commission interpreted the latest amendments and additions to the Electoral Code regarding media presentation for the referendum on the name.
“We stress that the latest amendments and additions to the Electoral Code, which legitimized political propaganda in the media paid by the people’s money, refer only to the organization of election campaigns, and not to the organization of referendums. The SEC has no legal jurisdiction to interpret the laws, while the Commission’s explanation on media presentation for the referendum is guess-work, without legal basis, and discriminates against the participants in the referendum,” said the association in a statement.
The AJM, SSNM, MIM and ICS say that “it is unclear where the SEC presumes the right of Parliament to give priority in media presentation, as compared to the other participants in the referendum, as the organizer of the referendum.”
“Not only does Parliament receive privileged access to the media for political propaganda regarding the referendum, but also the costs of this propaganda will be paid by public funds. Other participants in the referendum campaign will not only have limited access to the media for propaganda, but they will have to bear the advertising costs themselves. Such approximate clarification can seriously jeopardize the legitimacy and legality of the referendum, therefore the SEC should immediately withdraw it. We urge the media to refrain from being drawn into this political manipulation. If they allow someone to impose rules on how to advertise in their media today, then tomorrow they will tell them how they should report,” the statement added.