COVID-19 pushed the media sector reforms out of the agenda in North Macedonia


Media reforms in North Macedonia were very low on the agenda of policy and decision makers in the first quarter of 2020, states the report titled “Monitoring of Media Reform Process and the Work of AVMS and MRT” by the Media Development Center. COVID-19 pushed out the issue of media reforms from the agenda and an exception from this were the new changes in the Electoral Code and the long-standing feud between national DVB-T broadcasters and the operators of the cable networks.

In the report, the Media Development Center stresses that the procedure of selection and appointment of the new compositions of the AVMS Council and the Programming Council of MRT remained on pause, stressing that their proposal for intervention in the legislation and lowering the threshold at the absolute majority of 60+1 MPs. An additional guarantee of creation of an external commission must be secured that will conduct the actual interviewing and selection of the final list of candidates that it will present to the competent Parliamentary committee to be adopted by the Parliament.

Regarding the changes to the Electoral Code in 2019 and the new rules of media presentation, the Media Development Center repeats its strive for abolishment of the financing of paid political advertising with public money and if that doesn’t happen, then the possibility of such political advertising with tax payers’ money should be eliminated

“Limits on amounts that political parties can spend on campaign advertising are acceptable.On the other hand,restriction of prices of ads, or the choice of each individual party or candidate running in elections – parliamentary, local or presidential – where they intend to spend their media buying budgets are unacceptable. All such restrictions need to be eliminated,” states the Monitoring Report for the First Quarter of 2020.

Regarding the dispute between national terrestrial televisions and operators of public electronic communication networks, the Media Development Center stress that the dispute has been ongoing for over a decade.

“What the state should do is to start the work on establishment of a system for collective protection of copyright-related rights for audiovisual works, as required by the EU directive mentioned above. That is certainly our task as part of the process of EU accession and alignment of national legislation with the acquis communautaire,” states the report.

Regarding the aid the government provides for the printed media, the Media Development Center think that an analysis should be made whether the subsidies were spent correctly and whether they helped the print media in their everyday functioning. They stress that the print circulation of daily newspapers is dropping and probably another way of assisting qualitative journalism that is expected from traditional media should be though about.

“The work on the media reforms and the work of the MRT and AVMS during the period that is subject to this report were greatly influenced by the preparations for the Early Parliamentary Elections, scheduled at the time for April 12, 2020,” says the conclusion in the published report for the First Quarter of 2020 by the Media Development Center.foom-logo-disklejmer

This article was produced within the framework of the project “Media Reform Observatory“, implemented by the Foundation for Internet and the Society “Metamorphosis”, with financial support by the Foundation “Open Society – Macedonia”.

The content is sole responsibility of its authors and in no way whatsoever could be understood as a representation of the views of the Foundation “Open Society – Macedonia”.

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