BELGRADE – Associations of citizens, journalists and the media asked on Saturday the competent institutions to urgently take concrete steps to fulfil citizens’ demands from the “Serbia against violence” protest.
In a joint statement, it is stated that for years they have been pointing to the disastrous effect of media content that promotes violence, spreads panic, disinformation, malicious content and manipulation, with the assessment that such a media scene has developed solely because laws are systematically circumvented, and institutions do not react to law and by-law violations.
“Citizens of Serbia have very clearly identified the problems and, among the demands they made after two tragic events that affected Serbia, they demand from the competent institutions the removal of the REM Council, the revocation of the licenses of TV Pink and TV Happy, the shutdown of print media and tabloids that publish fake news, deceptions and continuously violate the journalistic code”, the statement said.
Associations of citizens, journalists and the media called on the MPs to initiate the removal of the members of the REM Council, and the Prime Minister of Serbia to initiate the adoption of amendments to parts of the Law on Electronic Media as soon as possible, in accordance with the priorities of the Media Strategy.
The change to the articles of the Law that regulate the authorized nominators of the members of the Council has been requested, so that the committees of the Parliament of Serbia and Vojvodina cannot nominate the members of the Council; then to determine the criteria and conditions that must be fulfilled by the candidates, as well as the election of the new REM Council, immediately after the adoption of the amendments.
Legal nominators of REM Council members – accredited universities, churches and religious communities, national councils, publishing associations and journalists’ associations, associations of film, stage and drama artists and associations of composers, associations of citizens whose goals are the realization of freedom of expression and the protection of children – are invited to call on, in the capacity of their nominators, REM Council members to resign.
The organizations call on government representatives, public companies and all institutions founded by the state to immediately stop all forms of media funding that violate the law on any basis, including advertising, projects, and public procurement.
The Prosecutor’s Office is called upon to respond without exception and without delay to any form of promotion and calls for violence in the media, and the courts to decide on the lawsuit filed by the citizens’ associations due to the illegal decision of the REM Council to renew the licenses for national broadcasting to televisions that violated the laws.
“After the decision of the courts, the new composition of the REM Council must conduct a new call for national licenses, respecting the conditions foreseen by the Law and the Rulebook on the minimum conditions for the provision of media services,” the announcement states.
It is added that the initiative, which aims to resolve the current crisis within institutions, is based on the findings of international institutions, the findings of REM itself, domestic experts and domestic organizations that deal with the topic of the state of the media and media regulation.
The initiative was signed by the Association of Media, Association of Online Media, Autonomous Women’s Center, Belgrade Center for Security Policy, Belgrade Center for Human Rights, BIRODI, Center for Contemporary Politics, CRTA, European Movement in Serbia, Civic Initiatives, Youth Initiative for Human Rights. The signatories of the initiative are the Committee of Lawyers for Human Rights, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina, the Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, New Optimism, Partners Serbia, the Business Association of the Association of Local and Independent Media “Local Press” and the Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation.