At the end of the week, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković sent a clear message to the Electronic Media Council (VEM) that the scandalous case of awarding the concession of the former Radio 101, which was opened and exposed by our portal, should be resolved. He decided to answer the question at the press conference, which he could have expected, and which he unequivocally redirected to the VEM from Marko Square to Jagićeva Street, the headquarters of the electronic media regulator.
With a look and a resolute sentence, Plenković delivered an offer to the members of the Council at the press conference, which should not be rejected. And they cannot reject it for several reasons.
Although the regulator is an independent body elected by the parliament by its status and definition (Plenković significantly emphasized in his answer to the N1 television journalist that the VEM is an independent body), the selection of its members is within the competence of the Ministry of Culture and Media and finally the Government, which submits the finished proposal to Parliament for adoption. When one party or coalition controls all these channels of power, as it is now, it is clear that the responsibility for the work of the VEM and its members, in this case, is in the hands of the HDZ and the coalition he leads, meaning Plenković himself as the leading man and Governments and ruling parties.
There have been various initiatives to democratize the election of VEM members, and for certain institutions and organizations of the “interested public” (professional associations, media institutions, etc.) to take responsibility for the composition of this body, but all of them have only seen a wall of misunderstanding of both the right and left political elites. The question is, however, whether something would change if a part of the members of the Council were elected outside the Parliament (and this one only blesses it), if the political factor would always prevail, as in the case of the Serbian REM. Well, one could try.
In any case, Plenković and Minister Nina Obuljen know how things stand, both in reality and formally, they also know who decides on the members of the VEM and what are the limits of the independence of this body. And hence a kind of order to the members of the VEM, in the subtext of the answer about the Government as the wrong address for solving the problems of the VEM to urgently start extinguishing the fire they caused, which could burn both the Prime Minister and the Minister. You are an independent regulatory body, so solve it “independently.” You will not take us with you and if you do not do that, we have a formal place to deliver you to (media) lions and send you all together, in parliamentary procedure, to the throes of history, said the simplified version of the offer which should not be rejected.
In the research of our portal and some other media, enough information appeared (lease of space, violation of market competition …) that could play the role of a lifeline for VEM as an institution and its members individually. It is a “gift from heaven” for the members of the regulatory body to accept Plenković’s offer reluctantly, ie to find a way to legally and legitimately annul the decision on the award of the concession to Top Radio and announce a tender for a new one.
Whether he will do so and in what timeframe, we will see. Yet it is an “independent body.” One should, however, bet that they will listen to the advice of the Prime Minister, save their positions, and not make his life miserable. No one cares about the reputation of a formally declared independent regulatory body anyway.