United Media said that statements like the one Brnabic made as an official of the executive branch of the Republic of Serbia in a live appearance on a TV station with national coverage gives rise to justified concern in terms of possible pressure on the country’s electronic media watchdog REM at the coming competition for national coverage TV permits.
Brnabic lashed out at Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic for giving an interview to the independent Nova daily newspaper, disclosing that members of her cabinet are banned from making statements for free and independent media outlets even though the Law on Public Information explicitly bans direct and indirect discrimination of the media.
The outgoing Prime Minister said that the fact that the minister gave the interview was inappropriate and added that “the red line” has to be drawn somewhere.
“It seems that professional media working in the interest of the public not for the authorities are the “red line” for Prime Minister Brnabic which cannot be crossed by any member of her cabinet. If the Serbian Prime Minister is so upset over an interveiew to a daily newspaper that she has to say things like this, is there any chance of the process of allocating national TV licenses, which N1 and Nova S will compete for, will not include pressure from the authorities on the REM and will be unbiased? Is there any chance of the public asset, the license for national coverage broadcasting going to media outlets whose reporting is critical, which state officials do not appear on,” United Media said.
United Media, which operates in eight southeast European countries, said that the flagrant violation of the rights of media is something that it faces only in Serbia and has warned the local public and international community about.
“We would like to remind the prime minister that Serbia laws clearly state that holders of public and political posts have to tolerate critical views about what they do, that is the policies they implement, regardless of whether the reporting affects them personally. We are calling her to do everything she can while she heads the Serbian government to secure equal business condition on the market for all media regardless of her personal preferences and those of other members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party,” United Media said.