Caretaker PM Dimitriev, journalist associations discuss media reforms

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 Caretaker Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev and government officials held talks Tuesday with members of the Macedonian Association of Journalists (MAN), the Macedonian Media Association (MMA) and the Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM), on reforms of media.

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Macedonia has a solid, high-quality law on audio and audiovisual media services, being also welcomed by EU two-three years ago, and if political parties agree to amend the bill, they should choose some European solution, not a hybrid one, Slagjana Dimiskova, chair of the Macedonian Association of Journalists (MAN), told reporters on Tuesday.

Today’s meeting also underlined the need of a code of conduct to be introduced in the pre-election period that would be valid not only for media but all participants in the process, Dimiskova said.

She said the proposals for media reforms, voiced by EU mediator Peter Vanhoutte, were not acceptable for MAN, as they were identical with the ones of the opposition SDSM, namely meet the interests of only one political party.

The Macedonian Media Association (MMA), representing five private national TV networks (Kanal 5, Telma, Sitel, Alsat M. and Alfa), considers that there is no need for amending the existing media law. It should only incorporate MMA suggestions, namely cutting of draconian fines and regulation of copyright rights of cable operators, Kanal 5 Director Ivan Mircevski said. MMA is ready to submit its proposals to the government and all political parties, he added.

The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (ZNM) supports the concept of Belgian mediator Vanhoutte that ZNM considers promote grater media freedom.

ZNM believes the mediator’s proposals may be incorporated into the existing law on audio and audiovisual media services.

The question is whether political parties are willing to accept his approach, ZNM chair Naser Selmani said.

Any attempt to copy a law of EU countries will not contribute to improving the status of media in Macedonia, he said. Macedonia may accept the best European practices, but adjust them to the country’s conditions, Selmani added.

The government also considers that the existing law on media, drafted in cooperation with the EU, is good. However, if a new is needed, the government suggests for Macedonia to endorse any bill of the EU members, PM Dimitriev told reporters after the meetings with three journalist, media associations.

The government commends the initiatives for an introduction of a code of conduct during the election period that will be respected by all participants in the process, he said.

Media reforms are part of an EU-brokered deal aimed at ending a political crisis in Macedonia.