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Croatia

Media Transparency (HR0017)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Croatia Action Plan 2012-2013

Action Plan Cycle: 2014

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Culture; Agency for Electronic Media

Support Institution(s): Information Commissioner; Council for Electronic Media; Digital Information Documentation Office; Conflict of Interest Commission

Policy Areas

Civic Space, Conflicts of Interest, Defending Journalists and Activists, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Media & Telecommunications

IRM Review

IRM Report: Croatia End-of-Term Report 2014-2016, Croatia IRM Progress Report 2014-2015

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Improve the legislative framework for transparency and independent work of the media. Implementation indicators: Proposal of amendments to the Media Act drafted and adopted at the Government session which enables: strengthening of the implementation mechanisms for Article 6 (accessibility of public information in a “reasonable” timeframe), regulation of the status of journalists in the sense of their protection if they speak out about censure within their editorial offices, defining the terms on the networking of concession holders and publishers, transparency of data on the owners of all media to the level of the natural person (register in reusable and easily searchable open code format), transparency of annual financial reports of media, data on publishers that are easily accessible on the publisher's website (impressum), including: ownership structure with shares/associations in other publishers and other types of companies (e.g. co-ownership/close persons/familial relations) and official functions and/or holding functions in a political party by an owner of media; revenue from media activities; editorial office statute; contact information of the editorial office. The proposed amendments of the relevant legislative framework will enable decision-making on state subsidies and breaks for individual publishers (Media Act, Electronic Media Act, Value Added Tax Act, etc.). Improving the legislative framework for the transparency of electronic media Implementation indicators: Establishment of legal obligations for the timely release of complete and accurate information on the website (impressum) of the electronic media publisher that includes: programme basis, included concession obligations, concession area and broadcast area, programme scheme, including daily and weekly broadcasting schedule, contract on the networking of concession holders, including data on responsible editors and network programme schemes, contact information and/or viewer/listener feedback form. Increasing transparency and improvement of managing conflicts of interest in the work of Cultural councils Implementation indicators: published records of Cultural councils at the level of the Ministry and local government bodies, ensuring the application of mechanisms to manage conflicts of interest (e.g. obligation to declare a conflict of interest in records, instrument of self-exclusion from the decision-making process, drafting of a code of ethics, amended decision-making procedures in the case of a declared conflict of interest, etc.). Publish concession contracts for the provision of television and radio media services, with tender documentation Implementation indicators: published concession contracts on the provision of television and radio media services, with tender documentation Lead institutions: Ministry of Culture; Agency for Electronic Media Supporting institutions: Information Commissioner; Council for Electronic Media; Digital Information Documentation Office; Conflict of Interest Commission Start date: Not specified End date: 30 June 2015

IRM End of Term Status Summary

8. Media Transparency

Commitment Text:

8.1. Improve the legislative framework for transparency and independent work of the media

Implementation indicators:

  • Proposal of amendments to the Media Act drafted and adopted at the Government session which enables:
  • strengthening of the implementation mechanisms for Article 6 (accessibility of public information in a “reasonable” timeframe)
  • regulation of the status of journalists in the sense of their protection if they speak out about censure within their editorial offices
  • defining the terms on the networking of concession holders and publishers
  • transparency of data on the owners of all media to the level of the natural person (register in reusable and easily searchable open code format)
  • transparency of annual financial reports of media
  • data on publishers that are easily accessible on the publisher's website (impressum), including: ownership structure with shares/associations in other publishers and other types of companies (e.g. co-ownership/close persons/familial relations) and official functions and/or holding functions in a political party by an owner of media; revenue from media activities; editorial office statute; contact information of the editorial office.
  • The proposed amendments of the relevant legislative framework will enable decision-making on state subsidies and breaks for individual publishers (Media Act, Electronic Media Act, Value Added Tax Act, etc.).

Lead institutions: Ministry of Culture

Supporting institutions: Information Commissioner

Start date: Not specified   End date: June 2015

8.2. Improving the legislative framework for the transparency of electronic media  

Implementation indicators: Establishment of legal obligations for the timely release of complete and accurate information on the website (impressum) of the electronic media publisher that includes:

  • programme basis, included concession obligations, concession area and broadcast area
  • programme scheme, including daily and weekly broadcasting schedule
  • contract on the networking of concession holders, including data on responsible editors and network programme schemes
  • contact information and/or viewer/listener feedback form

Lead institutions: Ministry of Culture

Supporting institutions: Information Commissioner; Council and Agency for Electronic Media

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2014

8.3. Increasing transparency and improvement of managing conflicts of interest in the work of Cultural councils

Implementation indicators:

  • published records of Cultural councils at the level of the Ministry and local government bodies
  • ensuring the application of mechanisms to manage conflicts of interest (e.g. obligation to declare a conflict of interest in records, instrument of self-exclusion from the decision-making process, drafting of a code of ethics, amended decision-making procedures in the case of a declared conflict of interest, etc.)

Lead institutions: Ministry of Culture

Supporting institutions: Information Commissioner; Digital Information Documentation Office; Conflict of Interest Commission

Start date: Not specified   End date: December 2014

8.4. Publish concession contracts for the provision of television and radio media services, with tender documentation

Implementation indicators: published concession contracts on the provision of television and radio media services, with tender documentation

Lead institutions: Agency for Electronic Media

Supporting institutions: Ministry of Culture

Start date: Not specified   End date: continuous

Commitment Aim:

This commitment sought to ensure and improve upon the independence and transparency of the media. Milestones 8.1 and 8.2 sought to improve the legislative framework and to improve  transparency for traditional media and electronic media sectors, including amendments to the Media Act, the Electronic Media Act, and the Value Added Tax Act. Miletone 8.3 aimed to increase transparency and improve conflict of interest management in cultural councils,  and milestone 8.4. aimed to increase transparency of concession contracts for the provision of television and media services.

Status

Midterm: Limited

8.1. Improve the legislative framework for transparency and independent work of the media (not started)

8.2. Improving the legislative framework for the transparency of electronic media (not started)

The IRM researcher found the implementation of milestones 8.1 and 8.2 was not started during the first year of implementation. Namely, the Ministry of Culture envisaged that all the legislative changes should result from a unified media policy, the adoption of which was not included in the OGP action plan commitments. Of the activities planned in creating such a policy, the ministry only published the National Report on the Media[Note 42: Available at http://www.min-kulture.hr/userdocsimages/NAJNOVIJE%20NOVOSTI/Izvjestaj%20-%20Radni%20materijal%201%20-%20Rad%20u%20medijima.pdf.] and other working materials[Note 43: Available at http://www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=12069.] for public media policy discussions and conducted a series of roundtables. This unified media policy was never finalized and stalled the implementation of both milestones.

8.3. Increasing transparency and improvement of managing conflicts of interest in the work of cultural councils (limited)

The IRM researcher found limited implementation for this milestone, putting it behind schedule. According to the self-assessment report, the minutes of the meeting concerning the cultural councils and commissions are available on the official website of the Ministry of Culture.[Note 44: Available at http://www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=13.] The interviewed ministry representative,[Note 45: The interview was conducted on 30 September 2015. For more information, see the IRM midterm report.] however, stated that, although the ministry is obligated to keep full records, it only partially publishes meeting minutes. There is also no sanction for violating the legal obligation to publish minutes of meetings. Likewise, the instrument of self-exclusion from a debate in the case of a declared conflict of interest was introduced and implemented, but the interviewed CSO representatives[Note 46: The focus group with CSO representatives was held on 22 September 2015. For more information, see the IRM midterm report. ] stated that the change replaced a strict conflict-of-interest prevention mechanism with a soft legal institute, the self-exclusion mechanism.

8.4. Publish concession contracts for the provision of television and radio media services, with tender documentation (substantial)

The IRM researcher found substantial implementation for this milestone. All concession agreements are made public on the Agency for Electronic Media’s website[Note 47: Available at https://pmu.e-mediji.hr/Public/PregledTvNakladnici.aspx.] along with the basics of programming for every broadcaster. However, according to the self-assessment report, tender-related documentation has not been released to the public, due to the large volume of documents. Additionally, all media organisations and publishing houses responsible for the publication of tenders were erronously asked to act as gatekeepers of classified information and to notify the agency if any parts of the to-be-published tender documents contained confidential material. However, this was an erorr in judgement and in assigning authority, since, according to the Act on the Right of Access to Information, the Information Commissioner is the only administrative body, aside from the judiciary, that can order the release of documentation to the public (regardless of what the publishers might believe is confidential data).

End of term: Limited

The Ministry of Culture has still not started implementing milestones 8.1 and 8.2, nor does the Plan of Normative Activities anticipate any amendments to media legislation in 2016. The completion of milestone 8.3 remains limited. According to the draft self-assessment report, the ministry publishes summaries of minutes, rather than comprehensive minutes, from cultural council meetings, and the conflict of interest policy is being implemented. The ministry stated that it plans to further improve and enhance the work of cultural councils by amending the Law on Cultural Councils. There was also no progress made in the implementation of milestone 8.4 compared to the midterm report. All concession agreements were published along with the basics of programming for each publisher. However, the draft self-assessment report states that due to the large number of tender documents (nearly 170 radio and TV publishers) full completion of this milestone has not yet been achieved but will be shortly.

Did it open government?

Access to information: Did not change

The self-assessment report and the interviewed representative from the Ministry of Culture[Note 48: The interview was conducted on 30 September 2015. For more information, see the IRM midterm report.] both noted that the provisions on media transparency did not prove particularly controversial for the government. However, the media policy creation process stalled the implementation of milestones 8.1 and 8.2. According to several interviewees from both the state administration and CSOs, this policy has been “in the works” for three years, only to have its launch postponed for an unspecified amount of time due to parliamentary elections held in November 2015. CSO representatives[Note 49: Information commissioner event, 28 September 2016. See Methodological Note and http://www.pristupinfo.hr/en/povjerenik-za-etiku/.] in particular emphasised the fact that journalists’ rights are poorly regulated in the current legislation, and highlighted the need for its urgent amending. Although the potential impact of these milestones was transformative, there was no change in the government information disclosure practices due to a limited level of implementation.

Concerning milestone 8.3, the Ministry of Culture establishes cultural councils for certain areas of artistic and cultural creativity; members are cultural workers and artists who contribute to the realisation of the objectives of cultural policy and propose measures for its implementation. Cultural councils have in the past been opaque in their conduct, and their members were often unaccountable for any conflict of interest. This milestone was aimed at transforming the existing situation and ensuring transparency and better access to information to the interested public. The cultural councils would have to publish minutes of meetings and establish a mechanism for managing conflicts of interest through declarations of conflicts of interest and self-exclusion from the decision-making process. Milestone 8.3 had moderate potential impact at the midterm review. However, its implementation was limited, and the disclosure of information suffered a setback because the strict conflict-of-interest prevention mechanism was replaced with a soft legal institute: namely, the self-exclusion mechanism.

Concerning milestone 8.4., given that concessions mean the use of limited public goods, the publication of concession agreements on the agency’s official website,[Note 50: Available at https://pmu.e-mediji.hr/Public/PregledTvNakladnici.aspx.] allows the interested public to monitor the compliance of broadcast and programme principles with those mentioned in the tender documents. The public has long been interested in knowing how concession contracts are awarded, especially for television and radio media services (electronic media). This makes the implementation of this milestone moderately ambitious and marginally successful in increasing transparency and the right to access information on the use of a public good.

Carried forward?

The next action has not been drafted or released by the government in accordance with the OGP schedule. The IRM researcher suggests the following steps to reach a full completion of the unfinished milestones:

  • Demonstrate political will to improve the legislative framework for transparency and independent work of the media by adopting the media policy or abandoning it in favor of earlier regulation;
  • Make the meetings of the cultural councils public;
  • Because they participate in public decision making, expand the definition of officials to other appointed members of public bodies, such as the cultural councils, so that they may be under the competence of the Committee for Preventing Conflicts of Interest;
  • Publish full minutes of meetings of all cultural councils in accoradance with the Act on the Right of Access to Information, which requires all public authorities to publish their work meetings (agendas and dates) and a way to publicly follow their meetings; and
  • Include the information commissioner in the implementation of the final milestone, led by the Agency for Electronic Media, and publish the tender-related documentation according to the commissioner’s input.

Croatia's Commitments

  1. Implementing Right to Information

    HR0026, 2018, Capacity Building

  2. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0027, 2018, E-Government

  3. Political Finance Transparency

    HR0028, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Commercial regulations of companies owning local governments

    HR0029, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  5. Transparency in NGO project finance

    HR0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    HR0031, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  7. Parliamentary transparency

    HR0032, 2018, E-Government

  8. Media regulations framework

    HR0033, 2018, Civic Space

  9. Data Opening

    HR0034, 2018, E-Government

  10. Raising awareness about open data

    HR0035, 2018, Capacity Building

  11. Central state portal

    HR0036, 2018, E-Government

  12. public consultations

    HR0037, 2018, Capacity Building

  13. implementation of anti-corruption policies by NGOs

    HR0038, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  14. local and regional open government

    HR0039, 2018, E-Government

  15. OGP sustainability

    HR0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  16. Right to Access Information Legislative Framework

    HR0010, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  17. Improving the Implementation of the Right of Access to Information Act

    HR0011, 2014, Capacity Building

  18. Starred commitment Proactive Release of Information and Opening Data

    HR0012, 2014, Capacity Building

  19. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0013, 2014, Capacity Building

  20. Starred commitment Improvements of Transparency and Efficiency in Public Administration Work

    HR0014, 2014, Capacity Building

  21. Improvement of Transparency of Election and Referendum Campaigns

    HR0015, 2014, E-Government

  22. Transparency in the Area of Youth Policy

    HR0016, 2014, E-Government

  23. Media Transparency

    HR0017, 2014, Civic Space

  24. Improving Transparency of Information on Members of Parliament and Their Work

    HR0018, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  25. Improving Transparency of Data on Assets of Officials

    HR0019, 2014, Asset Disclosure

  26. Starred commitment Improving the Consultation Process with the Interested Public in Legislative Procedures

    HR0020, 2014, Capacity Building

  27. Ensuring the Sustainability of Values and Content of the OGP Initiative

    HR0021, 2014, Capacity Building

  28. Starred commitment Participation in Drafting the New Anti-Corruption Strategy

    HR0022, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  29. Regulation of Lobbying

    HR0023, 2014, Capacity Building

  30. Improving Efficiency of the Ministry of Interior's Complaints Commission

    HR0024, 2014, Justice

  31. Promoting Civil Participation in the Work of Civil Society Organizations

    HR0025, 2014, Civic Space

  32. Improving the Content and Transparency of Budgetary Documents: Publish and update the state budget proposal

    HR0001, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  33. Improving Transparency of Business Activity of The Companies Of Special State Interest

    HR0002, 2012, Private Sector

  34. Making The Contents of All Budgetary Documents Understandable And Accessible To Citizens

    HR0003, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  35. Improving Accessibility of Local Budget Contents to the Citizens and the Public: Give recommendations to local units to publish budget documents

    HR0004, 2012, Fiscal Transparency

  36. Starred commitment Improving the Legislative Framework for Exercising the Right of Access to Information: Amend the Act on the Right of Access to Information

    HR0005, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  37. Starred commitment Improving Access to Information on Expending Public Resources and Contents of Relevant Registers: Implementation of acts on political activity and campaign financing

    HR0006, 2012, Civic Space

  38. Ensuring Transparent Work of Public Authority Bodies In The Service Of Exercising Citizen Rights: Enhancement of web portal with info on exercising rights

    HR0007, 2012, E-Government

  39. Starred commitment Setting up a System of Participatory Drafting and Monitoring of State and Local Budget Implementation: Public discussions on budget allocation

    HR0008, 2012, Participation in Budget Processes

  40. Starred commitment Improving the Practice of Consulting the Interested Public in Procedures of Adopting New Laws: Amend procedural rules

    HR0009, 2012, E-Government