AJM Selmani warned, the Government wants to introduce censorship in media

The Ministry of Information Society and Administration today in Skopje organized a debate on the Draft Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, informs the Association of Journalists of Macedonia.

The President of the AJM, Naser Selmani, accused the Government that with the attempt to impose fines for unethical media reporting it is trying to introduce censorship, which is banned by the Macedonian Constitution. Selmani explained that the Government practically wants to put a hand on the media contents and to play the role of chief editor and to tell journalists what is ethical and what is unethical reporting.

“You are inconsistent in your views, on one hand you are saying that you support self-regulation in the media, and on the other hand you propose fines for journalist ethics. What will the Council of Media Ethics and the Council of Honor of the AJM be working if you tell them how they are supposed to write. That is why you will be fining the media with 5,000 euros and the responsible person with 1,500 euros. With this, you are practically introducing censorship”, said Selmani, and

added that the people who have participated in writing this article of the law, are not only great enemies of freedom of speech, but also work directly against the credibility of this government, which wants to show itself as a reform government.

He claims that if the fines for ethical standards in journalism are not deleted, that Macedonia risks violating the European Convention on Human Rights and Freedoms, which it is obligated to respect as a member of the Council of Europe. “Article 10 of the Convention clearly defines when freedom of speech can be limited. With this article you are going out of those frames and are introducing new limitations”, warned Selmani.

According to him, 0.7 percent of the budget for financing the Macedonian Radio Television are not enough funds for normal functioning of the public service. “When you were in opposition you had no problem with supporting 1 percent of the budget for the public service, and now you plan 0,7 percent of the budget. If the MRTV has a debt of 30 million euros, how do you plan to service the debts with 15 million euros annually. How do you plan to open a new channel in Albanian, to equip the MRTV, to raise the salaries of the employees, and not to mention the process of digitalization”, said Selmani.

Minister Robert Popovski promised that Article 61 will be deleted if the journalist associations demand it. “We are open to Article 61 being deleted, but consider what that would mean”, highlighted Popovski.

In terms of the financing of the MRTV, Popovski said that thought is being given to providing an opportunity for the percentage for financing the MRTV to increase each year, until it reaches the desired 1 percent.

Selmani, at the end of the debate, complimented the readiness of the Government to delete the fines anticipated in Article 61, and to discuss about a compromising solution for the financing of the MRTV.

This project is financed by the European Union through the small grants program “Protecting Media Freedom and Freedom of Expression in the Western Balkans”, implemented by the Croatian Journalists Association, as part of the regional project “Western Balkan’s Regional Platform for Advocating Media Freedom and Journalists’ Safety”, implemented through a partnership of six regional journalist associations – Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, Association of Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists, Croatian Journalists’ Association, Association of Journalists of Kosovo, Association of Journalists of Macedonia and the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro.

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