The Republic Broadcasting Agency and the Media Environment Cover Image

The Republic Broadcasting Agency and the Media Environment

Author(s): Jelena Vučković
Subject(s): Law, Constitution, Jurisprudence, Media studies, Public Law
Published by: Правни факултет Универзитета у Нишу
Keywords: broadcasting; Republic Broadcasting Agency; electronic media; media concentration; transparency of media ownership

Summary/Abstract: Since the democratic political changes in the year 2000, the legal system of the Republic of Serbia has gone through significant changes in many areas of social life. Inter alia, these changes have resulted in establishing a large number of agencies of different legal status. One of the major reasons for establishing these agencies was the need to regulate different social areas more efficiently. The standard form of public broadcasting did not exist in the Republic of Serbia before the year 2000 because the media were largely owned and controlled by the state. The need to regulate the media sector (and particularly the electronic media due to their overall significance and considerable impact on the public opinion) eventually resulted in establishing the Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA), which was envisaged in the Broadcasting Act of 2002. The primary objective was to diminish the influence and participation of the state in creating the media environment. However, ten years later, one may still call into question whether and to what extent the existing media legislation actually recognizes the public interest of citizens as superior to the interest of political parties which constitute the state government/governing authority. Has the state de facto pulled out of the media sphere? Do the citizens fully recognize the importance of public broadcasting services and understand how they are funded? There is no doubt that the Broadcasting Agency has brought about some order in the field of electronic media and contributed to raising awareness about the need to provide specific regulations in this important area of social life, which does not only reflect the immediate reality but also takes part in creating the future. Consequently, the operation of this Agency within the national legal system is necessary and valuable but it is also important to ensure its independence, particularly given the fact that it accrues considerable authorities. Yet, ensuring its independent status, and particularly its independent control, is not so easy and straightforward because the Agency is subject to an indirect state influence. There is a number of disputable legal provisions contained in the amendments of the Broadcasting Act, particularly those envisaging that the Agency financial plan must be subject to a prior Government approval and those envisaging the allocation of certain funds from the budget of the Republic of Serbia (as subsidy) in case the Agency does not receive any income on the grounds of the broadcaster’s obligation to pay the broadcasting fee. All these amendments point to the direct influence of the state in undermining the autonomy of this “independent” institution. Another problematic issue is certainly the attitude of this “independent” body on the issues concerning the media concentration and transparency of the media ownership.

  • Issue Year: LXI/2012
  • Issue No: 61
  • Page Range: 374-386
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Serbian