Skip Navigation
Serbia

amending media registration bylaws (RS0033)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Not Attached

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Culture and Information Business Registers Agency

Support Institution(s): BIRN Serbia, Tanja Maksić (011-40-30-319, tanja.maksic@birn.eu.com) Primarily, media and journalist organisations and associations; the media; secondarily, other civil society organisations engaged in prevention of corruption, monitoring of budget spending and related issues

Policy Areas

E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Media & Telecommunications, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Serbia Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Amending of the Bylaw on Documentation Enclosed for Registration of the
Media with the Media Register and technical improvement of presentation of data in the
Register
Q1 2019 - Q4 2019
(January 2019 - October 2019)
Lead implementing agency Ministry of Culture and Information
Business Registers Agency
Description of Commitment
Problem addressed by the
commitment
The proposed commitment should ensure greater transparency of
data on the spending of budget funds in the media sector.
Information on the total budget funding allocated to the media
sector is not fully available to the public because there is no official
data which would comprehensively present the total amount of
public funds allocated for the co-financing of projects and the
media through public calls, individual allocations, through
marketing or otherwise (public procurement, advertising etc.).
The Law on Public Information and Media provides for the
establishment of the Media Register as a central spot which would
ensure public availability of data on the media.
However, it is evident from the current state of operation of the
Media Register shows the need to amend the Bylaw on
Documentation Enclosed for Registration of the Media with the
Media Register in order to address the following issues:
• Money awarded to the media by the state is classified either as
“funds awarded as state aid” or as “funds not awarded on the basis
of state aid rules” (funds received by public authorities), which
means that these two very wide categories of financial allocations
are not defined in detail,
27
• Documents containing data on funds are clearly defined only for
funds awarded according to the state aid rules (a decision on
distribution of funds is submitted), while any document could be
used for the other categories of financial allocations,
• Data presentation is not satisfactory because an average user is
not able to easily find relevant data on financial allocations to the
media and cross-checking of data is not possible,
• The data on financial allocations in the Media Register are not
updated,
• The supervisory mechanism for compliance with the duty to
submit data on the amount of awarded money has several issues,
while sanctions are inadequate and not efficient enough.
Main objective 1. To amend the Bylaw on Documentation Enclosed for Registration
of the Media with the Media Register (lead implementing agency:
Ministry of Culture and Information) – It is necessary to: define
in detail the type of public funds awarded to the media; to define
time limits for submission of data to the registrar; to define in
detail the documents required to be submitted to the Media
Register and categories of data (in accordance with the
Recommendation 2 on improvement of technical performances of
the Register);
2. To improve technical performance and presentation of data in the
Media Register (lead implementing agency: BRA).
Categories of data which would be publicly available would include
the following:
• Identification data on the providers of state aid or contracting
authorities in public procurement procedures;
• The number, date and title of a decision on award of state aid or
the number, date and title of a decision on contract award in
public procurement procedures;
• Legal basis for the passing of a decision on award of state aid or a
decision on contract award;
• The amount of state aid or the value of contracts in public
procurement procedures;
• The source of funding (specific budget item from which state aid
or public procurement is financed);
• Other data as appropriate.
How will this commitment
contribute to problem solving?
Transparency of state subsidies is the first, key step in evaluation of
the total amount of money allocated to the media sector.
In addition, only full data and facilitated access to information on
money flows can ensure control of spending, i.e. whether the
28
money has been spent for intended purposes and what effect it had
in terms of provision of information.
Access to information is also one of the most important anticorruption mechanisms.
The way in which this
commitment is relevant to
further advancing OGP values
The proposed commitment contributes to the achievement of
several key values and topics which are priorities of the OGP: it
ensures to the public and all interested parties access to information
of public importance, enables control of budget money spending
and also encourages accountability of public authorities which
handle budget money.
Additional information The basis for proposed changes, relevant researches, documents
and specific reasons for amendments to laws and secondary
legislation are available in the document titled Transparency of
Data on State Spending on Media Sector at: https://kazitrazi.rs/wpcontent/uploads/2017/11/TRANSPARENTNOST-PODATAKADRZAVNA-POTROSNJA.pdf
Activity with a verifiable
deliverable and completion
date
Start Date: End Date:
1. Implementation of a
consultative process
Q1 2019
(January 2019)
Q1 2019
(January 2019)
2. Preparation of amendments to
the Bylaw
Q1 2019
(February 2019)
Q1 2019
(March 2019)
3. Passing of the Bylaw Q1 2019
(March 2019)
Q1 2019
(March 2019)
4. Start and end date for
development of software for
keeping the Media Register at
the BRA
Q1 2019
(March 2019)
Q4 2019
(October 2019)
Contact information
Name of a responsible person
in the implementing agency
Slavica Trifunović
Ružica Mačukat
Title, Department Assistant Minister, Ministry of Culture and Information
Deputy Registrar of the Business Registers Agency, BRA
29
Email and phone number slavica.trifunovic@kultura.gov.rs
011/3398 – 498
rmacukat@apr.gov.rs
Other
actors
involved Administration
Civil sector
organisations,
private sector,
working groups
BIRN Serbia, Tanja Maksić (011-40-30-319,
tanja.maksic@birn.eu.com)
Primarily, media and journalist organisations and associations; the
media; secondarily, other civil society organisations engaged in
prevention of corruption, monitoring of budget spending and
related issues

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Amending Media Registration Bylaws

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

Title: Amending of the Bylaw on Documentation Enclosed for Registration of the Media with the Media Register and technical improvement of presentation of data in the Register

  1. To amend the Bylaw on Documentation Enclosed for Registration of the Media with the Media Register (lead implementing agency: Ministry of Culture and Information) – It is necessary to: define in detail the type of public funds awarded to the media; to define time limits for submission of data to the registrar; to define in detail the documents required to be submitted to the Media Register and categories of data (in accordance with the Recommendation 2 on improvement of technical performances of the Register);
  2. To improve technical performance and presentation of data in the Media Register (lead implementing agency: BRA).
  • Categories of data which would be publicly available would include the following:
  • Identification data on the providers of state aid or contracting authorities in public procurement procedures;
  • The number, date and title of a decision on award of state aid or the number, date and title of a decision on contract award in public procurement procedures;
  • Legal basis for the passing of a decision on award of state aid or a decision on contract award;
  • The amount of state aid or the value of contracts in public procurement procedures;
  • The source of funding (specific budget item from which state aid or public procurement is financed);
  • Other data as appropriate.

For full commitment text, please refer to the National Action Plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Serbia_Action-Plan_2018-2020_EN.pdf

Start Date: January 2019

End Date: October 2019

Context and Objectives

In Serbia, the advertising market is insufficiently large to ensure sustainability for Serbia’s more than 200 existing private media outlets. [73] According to some estimates, the advertising revenue in the media sector is worth €180 million‒€200 million. [74] The declining value of the media market has resulted in the media being highly dependent on direct state funding, through different types of transactions such as public calls for state aid (including project co-financing), public procurement, advertising, and the like. From 2011 to 2014, the public sector institutions spent annually on average over 1.7 billion Serbian dinars (around €14.4 million) on media advertising. [75] In 2018, local governments, the Ministry of Culture and Media, and the provincial secretariat in charge of media awarded around 1.3 billion Serbian dinars (approx. 12.7 million USD) through calls for co-financing of media projects. [76] Their main purpose was to support media coverage of topics and issues of public interest. However, there has been non-purposeful allocation of public funds; for example, considerable amounts have been awarded to media organizations that are considered to have violated the Serbian Journalists’ Code of Ethics [77] and to newspapers that are not registered according to the Law on Media. [78] Local government funds are often awarded through public calls to nationwide media outlets located in the capital of Belgrade, instead of supporting issues relevant to a particular local community as intended. [79] According to the Freedom House, these factors contribute to Serbia’s low press freedom ranking. [80]

The Media Register, established in 2015, is publicly available but problematic in several regards. It is outdated and lacks data on the fund providers [81] and the reasons for funding other than “state aid.” [82] According to media representatives, in fact, current data tell almost nothing, [83] and the registry fails to serve to the public interest, [84] as it makes it impossible to trace which media outlet gets what amount of money and from whom.

With this commitment, the Ministry of Culture and Media aimed to first increase transparency of public spending on media and ensure data quality and accuracy by amending the rules for registering in the Media Register and then to improve the register’s technical functionalities for better data display. [85] The commitment proposes the following data to be publicly available through the register: 1) name of fund providers or public procurement contractors; 2) number, date, and title of the decision to award funds/offer public procurement contract; 3) legal grounds for the decision; 4) exact amount of awarded state aid or contract value; 5) financial source (exact budget line) 6); and other data if needed. This commitment is relevant for increasing access to information because it aims to provide more (quality) data on the flow of public money in the media sector. The Ministry of Culture plans to collect journalist feedback on the improvements of the register as well. [86]

The commitment text contains milestones that enable verification of its completeness, but they are not clear, for example, in terms of the form, remit, and objectives of the consultative process. If implemented as written, it would improve the way citizens and other stakeholders scrutinize media financing and potential pressures on editors whereas journalists expect to see how public money affects the quality of information provision. To reach transformative potential impact, however, reforms are needed that directly enforce the accountability of these funds. Despite financial penalties [87] stipulated by the Law on Media, funding providers often avoid submitting information about allocated funds and often face no consequences [88] beyond occasional misdemeanour charges that representatives from both media and the Ministry of Culture and Media say are insufficient for enforcement purposes. [89] Because the Rulebook this commitment would reform is a bylaw, its scope is limited, which the Ministry acknowledges. [90] Experts therefore believe that real changes would require amending the Law on Media, [91] which has been hindered by a long and painful process of consultation and drafting of the new Media Strategy. Media representatives nevertheless urge to advance the current mechanisms in this commitment while waiting for a new law to be enacted. [92]

Next steps

Transparency of media funding is an important issue in the Serbian context, and commitments in this area will be welcome in the future OGP action plans. To expand the scope of the transparency measures in future action plans, the IRM researcher makes the following recommendations:

  • This commitment should be integrated with commitment 4 because obliging public authorities to publish data on public calls will provide the basis for monitoring whether the register is being updated.
  • The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with other responsible bodies, could consider ways to technically integrate the Media Register with the Public Procurement Register and the State Aid Register, allowing for a complete picture on the money flow in the media. Experts from civil society and the Business Registers Agency agree that there are no major technical obstacles to link the registers if there is a will and financial means. [93]
  • The Ministry of Culture could consult existing independent practices of tracking public money in the media sector in the country, such as the "Ask what you are interested" (Traži šta te zanima) portal, which created a database of official documents related to media financing, or the Serbian Journalists’ Association’s portal https://finansiranjemedija.rs/. [94]

Considering the often-limited human resources and technical capacities in small local administrations, the Ministry of Culture and Media, together with selected media representatives, should conduct awareness-raising trainings on updating the data about awarding public funds in the registry.

To reduce the potentials for misuse of the state funding of the media sector: [95]

  • Future amendments to the Law on Information and Media should include mandating the funding agencies to specify “public interest” for each public call for co-financing of media projects.
  • When announcing public calls for co-financing media projects, local governments should clearly specify priorities based on strategic documents, research, and other evidence-based data pointing to the interest of the given local community.
  • Commissions deciding on received applications in public calls should be governed by a standardized Rules of Procedures, and they should receive training in applying regulations on co-financing of media projects, together with representatives of local administrations.
  • Commission members should demonstrate a relevant professional background in the media sector, independence, and integrity.

Future commitments should aim toward strengthening accountability mechanisms in the media sector. For example:

  • Once the amendment of the media law reaches the decision-making agenda, the state should increase penalties for failure to update the media register.
  • The law could oblige authorities providing funds to media to proactively report to the Ministry of Culture on a quarterly basis.
  • The Working Group tasked to monitor implementation of the future media strategy could monitor the update of the media register.
  • Finally, future commitments could aim to develop clear indicators for monitoring implementation of the media law jointly by the state, media, and civil society actors.
[73] Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, Independent Journalists Association of Serbia, “Transparency of State Spending on the Media Sector – Legal Analysis and Recommendations,” available (in Serbian) at https://bit.ly/2DKgkO1
[75] Data determined on the sample of 124 state bodies, organizations, funds, public companies, majority-owned companies, and local self-government bodies. Anti-Corruption Council, “Report on the Possible Impact of Public Sector Institutions on the Media through Payment for Advertising and Marketing Services” 2015. http://www.antikorupcija-savet.gov.rs/Storage/Global/Documents/izvestaji/Izvestaj%20o%20medijima%20konacna%20verzija.pdf
[76] J. Pešić, “Medijski konkursi u 2018. godini: mnogo nepravilnosti, sporan i konkurs MKI” (Media calls in 2018: many irregularities, MKI call controversial), Serbian Journalists’ Association, 19.12.2018, available at http://www.uns.org.rs/sr/desk/akcija/71483/medijski-konkursi-u-2018-godini-mnogo-nepravilnosti-sporan-i-konkurs-mki.html
[77] Focus group with media, CSOs and experts organized by IRM Researchers, 20 February 2019. Serbian Journalists’ Code is available at http://www.savetzastampu.rs/cirilica/kodeks-novinara-srbije
[78] Independent Journalists’ Association of Serbia, “A million dinars from the budget for the newspapers not registered in accordance with the law,” https://bit.ly/2SU7jIU.
[81] For example, local municipalities, ministries, public enterprises.
[82] Currently, the Register provides data on the awarded money, date, decisions on changes in the Register and whether the funds were allocated on the grounds of state aid or other.
[83] Media representative, meeting minutes, closed-door meeting of the subgroup of the Special Inter-Ministerial Working Group on OGP, 25 June 2018.
[84] Južne Vesti Daily, “AOM: One-fifth of Media Register Useless,” https://bit.ly/2SQxxfi.
[85] The commitment proposes the following elements to be introduced in the Rulebook: Clear typology of public funds awarded to the media; defined deadlines for submitting information/updates; Clear definition of documents to be delivered to the Register, and prescribed categories of data – such as the provider of funds, legal grounds for funding, total amount, source of financing (direct budget line), etc.
[86] Representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Media, interviewed by IRM Researcher, 18 February 2019
[87] Between 50,000 and 150,000 dinars (ca. $470–$1,400)
[88] Focus group with media, CSOs, and experts organized by IRM researchers, 20 February 2019
[89] Representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Media, interviewed by IRM researcher, 18 February 2019; Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, Independent Journalists Association of Serbia, “Transparency of State Spending on the Media Sector – Legal Analysis and Recommendations,” available (in Serbian) at https://bit.ly/2DKgkO1.
[90] Representatives of the Ministry of Culture and Media, interviewed by IRM researcher, 18 February 2019.
[91] Focus group with media, CSOs and experts organized by IRM researchers, 20 February 2019; Representative of an international organization involved in the media policy in Serbia, interviewed by IRM Researcher, 13 February 2019.
[92] Focus group with media, CSOs and experts organized by IRM researchers, 20 February 2019
[93] Ibid. Representative of Business Registers Agency, interviewed by IRM researcher, 18 February 2019.
[95] Based on an independent expert analysis of Dragana Matović and Biljana Purić, Analiza obrazloženja komisija za dodelu sredstava na konkursima za sufinansiranje medijskih sadržaja: nejasno i netransparentno”, December 2018, available at https://kazitrazi.rs/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Analiza-obrazlo%C5%BEenja-komisija-za-dodelu-sredstava.pdf

Commitments

  1. Increasing transparency and participation in parliament

    RS0042, 2018, Civic Space

  2. Publishing Budget Law

    RS0028, 2018, E-Government

  3. e-calendar for financing civil society

    RS0029, 2018, E-Government

  4. publish data on environmental protection funds

    RS0030, 2018, Capacity Building

  5. opening data for public calls for media development

    RS0031, 2018, E-Government

  6. open data reports on CSOs

    RS0032, 2018, E-Government

  7. amending media registration bylaws

    RS0033, 2018, E-Government

  8. Assistance with and monitoring of adoption of LAP

    RS0034, 2018, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  9. Updating of electoral roll

    RS0035, 2018, E-Government

  10. ePAPER

    RS0036, 2018, E-Government

  11. e-notice board

    RS0037, 2018, E-Government

  12. Improving proactive transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0038, 2018, E-Government

  13. Access to Information Law

    RS0039, 2018, Capacity Building

  14. cooperation with CSOs on regulations

    RS0040, 2018, Capacity Building

  15. e-civic engagement

    RS0041, 2018, E-Government

  16. Develop a Model of Job Description or Part of Job Description of an Officer Responsible for Cooperation with Civil Society in Local Administration

    RS0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  17. Organise Trainings for Public Administration Officers in Connection with the Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0015, 2016, Capacity Building

  18. Organise Trainings for CSO in Connection with Application of the Guidelines on Inclusion of Civil Society Organisations in the Process of Passing Regulations

    RS0016, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Improve the System for Collecting Initiatives from Citizens and Businesses

    RS0017, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. Introducing Standards for Civic Participation in the Public Policy Management System

    RS0018, 2016, Capacity Building

  21. Improving Proactive Transparency – Information Booklet

    RS0019, 2016, Capacity Building

  22. Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0020, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  23. Development of an Open Data Portal

    RS0021, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Draft a Bylaw Based on the Guidelines for Evaluation of Websites

    RS0022, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. Improve the Institute of Public Hearing in the Drafting of Laws

    RS0023, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  26. Development of a Uniform Methodology for Planning, Monitoring and Performance Evaluation of Programmes and Projects Implemented by Civil Society Organisations and Monitoring the Spending of Allocated Funds

    RS0024, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Amend the Regulation on Funds to Support Programmes or Missing Amount of Funds for Programmes of Public Interest Implemented by Associations

    RS0025, 2016, Capacity Building

  28. Enactment of a Law on Electronic Documents, Electronic Identification and Trusted Services in Electronic Business

    RS0026, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Establish a Single Public Register of Administrative Procedures and Other Conditions for Pursuing a Business Activity

    RS0027, 2016, Capacity Building

  30. Transparency in Monitoring Budget Expenditures

    RS0001, 2014, Capacity Building

  31. Law on Financing Political Activities

    RS0002, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  32. Transparent Public Procurement Procedures

    RS0003, 2014, Open Contracting and Procurement

  33. Transparent Financing of Civil Society Organizations

    RS0004, 2014, Civic Space

  34. Extending and Clarifying Responsibilities of the Anti-Corruption Agency

    RS0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  35. Whistleblower Protection Trainings and Campaigns

    RS0006, 2014, Legislation & Regulation

  36. Draft Law Regulating Inspections in Public Administration

    RS0007, 2014, Audits and Controls

  37. e-Governmental Portal Awareness and Mobile Application

    RS0008, 2014, E-Government

  38. Starred commitment Public Administration Website Harmonization and Amendments to the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance

    RS0009, 2014, E-Government

  39. New Technologies to Improve Citizen Services

    RS0010, 2014, E-Government

  40. Cooperation with Civil Society Organizations in Public Policymaking

    RS0011, 2014, Civic Space

  41. Citizen Participation in Local Government Affairs

    RS0012, 2014, Public Participation

  42. Civil Society Participation in Monitoring the Public Administration (PAR) Strategy

    RS0013, 2014, Audits and Controls