Journalists, media associations, and trade unions are demanding the initiation of proceedings for the dismissal of members of the REM Council due to long-term activity that conflicts with Article 5 of the Law on Electronic Media.

REM directly violates the provisions of that article because it “does not contribute to the preservation, protection, and development of freedom of opinion and expression and does not protect the public interest in the field of electronic media and does not protect users of electronic media services.”

In the press release, several media organizations believe that the latest decision to grant a license for the provision of media services via cable and IPTV network to Insajder team d.o.o. the publisher of the daily newspaper Informer, the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) has made its existence pointless because it directly opposes the laws governing the work of this body, as well as the by-laws adopted by REM itself.

We remind you that since the beginning of 2020, this paper, which is a champion in violating the Code of Ethics, has received at least 18.3 million dinars of public money in tenders for media projects. The latest monitoring by the Press Council shows that this newspaper violated the Code of Journalists of Serbia 512 times in the period from October 2022 to the end of January 2023.

“Unfortunately, this is just one more in a series of indicators of illegal and illegitimate behavior by REM. Although REM’s professional services recorded numerous violations every month in the broadcasting of all television stations that have a national broadcasting license, especially PINK and Happy, REM granted licenses for national coverage again last summer. These television stations did not comply with the previous draft, which included mandatory broadcasting of children’s and scientific-educational programs. They continued with the same practice in the new cycle, as shown by the latest REM report – and presented at last week’s session of the Committee for Culture and Information, in which it is stated that for three months of this year, the share of children’s programs in the total program at Pink was about 0.02%. and on Happy 0.01%. When they applied for a new license last year, representatives of Happy Television promised that the share of children’s content would be 5% of the total program, while representatives of Pink promised that cultural, children’s, and scientific-educational programs would be represented with a minimum of 20% in the program,” media associations point out.

The Council of the REM has been in violation for more than six months, that is, since December 2, when the legally stipulated deadline for the fifth license for national coverage expired.

At the session the day before yesterday, one of the last items on the agenda was granting work permit to the Insider team. The expert service did not submit for inspection the submitted documentation necessary for decision-making, and the Council, without inspecting the documentation related to the proposed program concept, the so-called elaboration, nevertheless decided on granting the permit. Only one member of the Council, Judita Popović, requested and received an insight into the study. This attitude toward work is another proof of why this body does not fulfill its legally prescribed role.

That is why these organizations believe that the only solution is that the members of the REM Council should collectively submit their resignations due to the non-implementation of the provisions of the law, neglect of the public interest, and promotion of the political influence of the authorities. After all, the state action plan, after the adoption of the new Law on Electronic Media, which is about to be put to public debate and enter the adoption procedure, foresees the exclusion of state bodies from proposing candidates for REM Council members and the election of the new REM Council.

“The Coalition for Media Freedom believes that this selective use of public property is an insult to common sense and the journalistic profession because it shows the selective application of laws and rules,that is, that the rules do not apply to privileged media in the service of the ruling regime. This decision is an announcement of the further decline of the media scene in Serbia, which will contribute to the further cultural and other decline of the entire society. Instead of media pluralism, we got a continuation of media darkness, and that is why we demand that REM members collectively resign,” their statement reads.

The signatories of the press release are; the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia, AOM, ANEM, Slavko Ćuruvija Foundation, Independent Association of Journalists of Vojvodina, Local Press, AS Medija, SINOS, GS KUM “Nezavisnost” and UNS.