N1’s Bozic says regulator washed away sins of pro-regime stations

Igor Bozic, Photo: Medija centar Beograd

N1 Program Director Igor Bozic said that the Serbian Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) decided not to stick to law and its own rules when it “washed away the sins” of pro-regime TV stations in the process of allocating national frequency licenses.

“The courts will have the final say on this and we believe that the arguments and facts are on our side,” Bozic wrote in an op-ed piece for Belgrade weekly NIN. He said the REM denied that it was under pressure which is not legal or allowed under REM rules. “It said in its report that there was no illegal pressure from N1 or Nova S so is the REM Council Chairwoman (Oliver Zekic) changing the REM Council decision with her op-ed piece for NIN,” Bozic wrote responding to Zekic’s piece in last week’s issue of the weekly.


According to Bozic, Zekic said that there were several stories on the N1 and Nova.rs portals which proved what she termed “moaning” which were actually opinions voiced by others as well as a public petition by the Kreni Promeni organization. “There would have been pressure on the REM if someone really did wage a propaganda campaign and aired special programs like the ones against regime opponents aired by the stations which were awarded national licenses but the REM never said a word about them as if that was not within its jurisdiction,” Bozic said.


He said that N1 and Nova S were never punished but not because they do not fall within REM jurisdiction but because they did not violate the laws of the country where they are registered and it’s not like the REM did not try by claiming that reporting on public officials in a critical tone is a violation of the law.


“A professional regulator would not view that as any kind of violation but as a normal function of media outlets. The REM tried and failed several times to transfer its bias to the Luxembourg regulator (ALIA). That is what happens in countries where regulators operate without any political pressure, solely on the basis of professional and ethical standards,” he wrote.


In her op-ed piece a week earlier, Zekic said that the REM “did not look into what the TV stations did earlier to make sure they are all equal” when evaluating their applications. “The REM can’t punish TV stations registered in Luxembourg so why should we fine some and not others? However many there were, the fines were appropriate and what some people are demanding from the REM seems to be like asking a court to execute someone for 50 counts of petty thievery. No way,” she wrote. According to what Zekic wrote, “it’s clear that the campaign to give Nova and N1 national frequencies was ongoing all along, unrelenting and no moaning – and Igor Bozic from N1 did moan when I said that those stations pressured us – can disprove that”. “The moaning and fishing continued after our decision with an invoking of the law and rules without anyone noting that this kind of campaign is not permitted either by law or by the rules,” Zekic wrote.



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