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Croatia

Media Regulations Framework (HR0033)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Croatia Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Culture

Support Institution(s): Agency for Electronic Media Croatian Competition Agency Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society Ministry of Finance Ministry of the Economy Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure Information Commissioner, Croatian Chamber of Economy Croatian Association of Radio Publishers National Television Association Coordination of non-profit electronic publication providers Croatian News Agency Nova TV d.d. RTL Hrvatska d.o.o. Croatian Radio Television

Policy Areas

Civic Space, Defending Journalists and Activists, Digital Governance, Disinformation/Misinformation, Legislation & Regulation, Legislative, Media & Telecommunications, Online Civic Space

IRM Review

IRM Report: Croatia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

IMPROVING THE NORMATIVE FRAMEWORK FOR THE MEDIA
Implementation of the measure began on 1 April 2018 and will last until 30 August 2020
Leader of the measure MINISTRY OF CULTURE
Description of the measure
Which public issue does the measure address? The recession which began in 2008 had a negative effect on all types of
media in Croatia. As a result of reduced revenues from advertising,
between 2010 and 2015 the number of journalists fell, and many media
houses ceased to operate. The development of technology and
convergences, access to broadband internet and the invasion of
smartphones radically changed the media ecosystem. The boundary
between electronic and printed media became blurred, as both now had
extensions via many non-linear services. On the Croatia media market, we
need to bear in mind that regulation and support must include all media:
public, commercial (electronic and print) and non-profit. The sustainability
of media products with contents of public interest must be the obligation of
all participants, while of course the public and non-profit media have a
special role. Foreign entertainment media contents dominate all platforms,
whether linear or non-linear, so that domestic products and the European
parts would barely be able to survive on the competitive global market
were it not for envisaged quotas. As part of talks on the revision of the
AVMS Directive, there has been much discussion of how the quota system
and option of gathering resources for producing and distributing European
AV and encouraging media pluralism can be assured, through a regime of
regulating non-linear platforms and services.
In Croatia, the enforcement of the Media Act has not been assured, which
has had a largely negative effect on respecting journalism ethics and
standards in general (the pressure of the market economy). Today, there
is increasing talk of 'fake news' and the lack of editorial accountability,
particularly on all non-linear platforms. Croatia is one of only a few
countries which does not have a regulatory body for print or some form of
Press Council.
51
It is necessary to strengthen co-regulation and self-regulation as models
which contribute in a significant way to restoring damaged professional
journalism standards and raising awareness of the phenomenon of 'fake
news'. In this context, the issue of public trust in the media is very
important, along with the issue of developing media literacy in
particularly. Protecting minors and fighting hate speech are special
challenges in regulating non-linear services.
In media legislation and the production of support models, it is necessary
to define potential non-profit media service providers. The key term of
reference used to define non-profit media/public service providers should
not be reduced to mere registration of the founder, but should primarily
concern the provision of content of particular public interest. This kind of
definition would on the whole answer the real need to increase the
number of non-profit media, and would make it easier to bring some
electronic media closer to the concept of a 'media community', which still
needs to be worked out in detail.
What does the measure include? The implementation of the measure will guarantee a new normative
framework to enable a more functional system for working in the new
digital environment, and assure more transparent work, protection of
journalists, and access to support resources.
The establishment of working groups is needed to produce the draft
Electronic Media Act, Media Act, and an in-depth analysis, including, if
necessary, amendments to the Croatian Radio and Television Act and the
Croatian News Agency Act.
All stakeholders to whom the provisions of these Acts apply will participate
in the working groups, from non-profit media service providers to state
administration bodies, and when the draft document is ready, consultations
will be held with the interested public.
How does the measure contribute to resolving the public
issue?
Amendments to the normative framework will facilitate the work of the
media in the new conditions of the digital society, the publication of
information on the proprietors of all media to the level of physical
persons, the publication of relevant information linked to the work of the
media, and the further development of media literacy.
52
Why is this measure relevant to the values of the Open
Government Partnership?
The measure is relevant to the more transparent, more efficient work of
the media.
Additional information Resources are guaranteed in the State Budget, section Ministry of
Culture P3901, A564000 – within the regular work of the Ministry of
Culture.
Activities Implementation start date Implementation end date
8.1. Drafting the Electronic Media Act Underway January 2019
8.2. Drafting the Media Act 1 January 2019 January 2020
8.3. Improving legal provisions related to the
transparency of media ownership 1 June 2019 30 August 2020
Contact information
Person responsible in the body which is Leader of the
measure
Nives Zvonarić
Function, department Head, Independent Sector the for Media
Email and telephone nives.zvonaric@min-kulture.hr, +385 1 4866 453
Other participants
involved
State participants Agency for Electronic Media
Croatian Competition Agency
Croatian Regulatory Authority for Network Industries
Central State Office for the Development of the Digital Society
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of the Economy
Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Transport and Infrastructure
Information Commissioner
53
NGOs, private sector,
multilaterals, working groups
Croatian Chamber of Economy
Croatian Association of Radio Publishers
National Television Association
Coordination of non-profit electronic publication providers
Croatian News Agency
Nova TV d.d.
RTL Hrvatska d.o.o.
Croatian Radio Television

IRM Midterm Status Summary

8. Media Regulatory Framework

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

"Measure 8. Improving the Normative Framework for the Media" [64]

"The implementation of the measure will guarantee a new normative framework to enable a more functional system for working in the new digital environment, and assure more transparent work, protection of journalists, and access to support resources.

The establishment of working groups is needed to produce the draft Electronic Media Act, Media Act, and an in-depth analysis, including, if necessary, amendments to the Croatian Radio and Television Act and the Croatian News Agency Act.

All stakeholders to whom the provisions of these Acts apply will participate in the working groups, from non-profit media service providers to state administration bodies, and when the draft document is ready, consultations will be held with the interested public. (…) Resources are guaranteed in the State Budget, section Ministry of Culture P3901, A564000 – within the regular work of the Ministry of Culture."

Milestones:

8.1. Drafting the Electronic Media Act

  • Working groups set up to produce the draft Electronic Media Act
  • Draft Electronic Media Act produced
  • Electronic Media Act adopted at a session of the Government

8.2. Drafting the Media Act

  • Working groups set up to produce the draft Media Act
  • Draft Media Act produced
  • Media Act adopted at a session of the Government

8.3. Improving legal provisions related to the transparency of media ownership

Proposal for changes to the relevant legislative framework to allow the transparency of information on media proprietors to the level of physical persons (reusable, easily searchable, open code format).

Start date: 1 April 2018

End date: 30 August 2020

Context and Objectives

This commitment strives to ensure greater transparency and independence of media and primarily involves legislative changes for media activities. [65] This commitment builds on milestones from the second OGP action plan, [66] two of which were aimed at increasing transparency via legal changes. At the time, the Ministry of Culture envisaged a new media policy [67] to feed into the legislative changes. However, this media policy creation process held back implementation of activities in both milestones. Exacerbating the matter, the launch of the new media policy and legislation was postponed indefinitely since parliamentary elections held in November 2015. [68]

In recent years, media freedoms and the state of the media in Croatia have seen a noticeable decline. A 2016 report on media freedoms in Croatia [69] noted political interference in the Croatian public broadcaster (HRT), increasing public intimidation of critical media, continued impunity for physical attacts against journalists, [70] the use of criminal slander and libel legislation to silence investigative journalism, and a reduced arena for media pluralism, including minority and nonprofit media. This is corroborated by the World Press Freedom Index [71] and relevant CSOs in Croatia. [72] In this context, the commitment aims to ensure changes to the Electronic Media Act (Milestone 8.1), the Media Act (8.2) and to legal provisions related to media ownership transparency (8.3). The commitment is specific and verifiable, and is relevant to access to information, as all proposed legislative changes will improve the existing media environment. The last milestone will create a registry of beneficial ownership of the media in reusable and searchable open code, making it relevant for use of technology and innovation to improve transparency and accountablity. Various organizations are represented in drafting the laws in question, including several CSOs, making this commitment relevant to civic participation. In that regard, the envisioned proposal for the Electronic Media Act, followed by the umbrella Media Act, and other media legislation should achieve a more transparent and effective media environment.

For comparison, current media regulation and support does not include all media (i.e., public, commercial, electronic and print, and nonprofit), which is important for supporting domestic media production. It is also important to ensure the new legislation alligns with the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which was adopted by the European Parliament in late 2018, [73] especially in encouraging of media pluralism via regulating non-linear platforms and services. [74] There are also issues regarding  journalism ethics and standards, lack of editorial accountability, and increasing problems with "fake news," particularly on non-linear platforms. This commitment also aims to improve the low level of public trust in the media and legal definition of potential nonprofit media service providers ("community media").

This commitment is moderate in its scale and scope, as transparency in media ownership could reduce the risk of media monopolies, prevent political interference and corruption,  and decrease backhanded dealings in media enterprises.

Next steps

During action plan implementation, the IRM researcher reccomends the Ministry of Culture does the following:

  • Include strong regulations to erradicate the key problems with media freedoms, especially political interference, intimidation of journalists and their employers, reduced space for nonprofit, minority, and community media in general;
  • Ensure representation of all relevant stakeholders: independent media experts, CSOs dealing with media freedoms and democratic values, the academic sector, journalist and media professional associations, etc. Use established mechanisms of sharing important information with the interested public.

Should the government continue working on this issue, the next action plan could include:

  • Stimulating investigative journalism in Croatia by reducing or abolishing the use of criminal slander and libel legislation on journalists and their employers;
  • Opening more media data and information to the public, such as information on beneficial ownership of all media outlets, especially electronic media.
[64] Editorial note: The text contained herein is the abridged version of the commitment. The full text is available at: Action Plan for Implementation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative in the Republic of Croatia up to 2020 (OGP, Dec. 2018) 50−54, https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Croatia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf. [65] "Regulations > Media"(Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, 2019), https://www.min-kulture.hr/default.aspx?id=84 [66] Government of the Republic of Croatia, Action Plan for Implementation of the Open Government Partnership Initiative in the Republic of Croatia for the Period 2014 to 2016 (OGP, Jul. 2014) 24−25 (Measure 8), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Action%20Plan-OGP-8-7-2014-final-ENG.pdf. [67] Ivona Mendeš, Independent Reporting Mechanism (IRM) Progress Report: Croatia 2014-2015 (OGP, 21 Jun. 2016) 66−70 (Milestone 8), https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/croatia-irm-progress-report-2014-2015/. [68] Ivona Mendeš, Croatia: 2014-2016 End-of-term Report, (OGP, Dec. 2016) 42−46 (Milestone 8), http://www.opengovpartnership.org/sites/default/files/Croatia_EOTR_2014-2016_for-pub-comment_ENG.pdf. [69] Scott Griffen, Croatia: Media Freedom in Turbulent Times (Joint International Mission, Aug. 2016), https://ipi.media/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Croatia-Report-Intl-Mission-2016.pdf. [70] Zagreb, "Croatia: Hight time to create a tolerant and inclusive society" (Commissioner for Human Rights – Council of Europe, 29 Apr. 2016), https://www.coe.int/en/web/commissioner/-/croatia-high-time-to-create-a-tolerant-and-inclusive-society. [71] "Croatia" World Press Freedom Index (Reporters without Borders: 2018), https://rsf.org/en/croatia. In the report, Croatia steadily dropped rank between 2015 and 2018 when it went from 74 to 69. See Maja Garaca, "Croatia rises five places in World Press Freedom index" (SeeNews.com, 25 Apr. 2018), https://seenews.com/news/croatia-rises-five-places-in-world-press-freedom-index-610245. [72] "The last six months have been worse than the 1990s," Saša Leković, president of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), said of the media atmosphere in Croatia in 2016. He added, "Once a country is an EU member, nobody cares anymore." The situation devolved even further in the two subsequent years. Sven Milekic, "European Delegation Puts Croatian Media Freedom Under Spotlight" (BalkanInsight.com, 16 Jan. 2018), https://balkaninsight.com/2018/01/16/croatian-media-freedoms-fell-since-2016-01-15-2018/. [73] European Parliament, "Directive (EU 2018/18-08 of the European Parliament and of the Council," Official Journal of the European Union L303/69 (Eur-Lex, 14 Nov. 2018), https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32018L1808. [74] Non-linear media is a form of media that can be interacted with by the consumer, such as by selecting television shows to watch through a video on demand type service, by playing a video game, by clicking through a website, or by interacting through social media.

Commitments

  1. Implementing Right to Information

    HR0026, 2018, Access to Information

  2. Fiscal Transparency

    HR0027, 2018, Access to Information

  3. Political Finance Transparency

    HR0028, 2018, Capacity Building

  4. Commercial Regulations of Companies Owning Local Governments

    HR0029, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  5. Transparency in NGO Project Finance

    HR0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  6. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    HR0031, 2018, Anti-Corruption

  7. Parliamentary Transparency

    HR0032, 2018, E-Government

  8. Media Regulations Framework

    HR0033, 2018, Civic Space

  9. Data Opening

    HR0034, 2018, Access to Information

  10. Raising Awareness About Open Data

    HR0035, 2018, Access to Information

  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

  14. Local and Regional Open Government

    HR0039, 2018, Access to Information

  15. OGP Sustainability

    HR0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  16. Right to Access Information Legislative Framework

    HR0010, 2014, Access to Information

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

    HR0011, 2014, Access to Information

  18. Starred commitment Proactive Release of Information and Opening Data

    HR0012, 2014, Access to Information

  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, Anti-Corruption

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

    HR0018, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  25. Improving Transparency of Data on Assets of Officials

    HR0019, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  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

  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 Openness

  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 Openness

  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 Openness

  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, Access to Information

  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, Anti-Corruption

  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, Fiscal Openness

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

    HR0009, 2012, E-Government

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