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United Media: REM decision shows the depth of the dictatorship in Serbia

29th July, 2022

Today’s REM decision under which national broadcasting licenses were awarded to televisions stations that have had them so far: Pink, Happy, B92 and Prva shows that there is no will to regulate the situation in the media and is yet another proof of the dictatorship in Serbia and of the collapse of institutions that should protect professionalism and objectivity.

REM’s decision is not unexpected because it was clearly said at the beginning of the competition that every television station will be pardoned for failing to honor regulations and laws in the past.

REM only seemingly showed that it honors the democratic procedures, but it is completely clear that the competition was essentially a farce and a deception of the public. With their licenses being extended, the four national television stations were actually rewarded for violating the law and actively supporting the governing establishment and the politics of the Serbian Progressive Party.

Aleksandra Subotic, CEO of United Media, the company within which television stations N1 and Nova S operate, says that these televisions participated in the competition believing, in good faith, that the situation can change.

“I think the REM Council has the obligation to explain to the citizens of Serbia why, when making the decision, they failed to take into account these television stations’ previous work, or more precisely, the fact that they flagrantly violated the law,” Subotic said.

Even though the use of a public good obliges them to work in the interest of the public, these television stations’ practices so far show that none of them met the standards of quality, objective information and social development.

“What are the guarantees that these four televisions will in future change the way they operate and that they will work in the interest of the citizens if we have in mind that in the past two years alone they had 32,000 misdemeanors,” Subotic added.

In their planned program schemes televisions N1 and Nova S offered a quality and attractive program and proved, through their work, that they are guided by the rules of the profession and that their reporting is unbiased and objective.

They contribute to the truth being heard rather than just the narrative promoted by the governing structures.

The decision to again issue national broadcasting licenses to Pink, Happy TV, B92 and Prva shows that there is no political will to enable media pluralism in Serbia, to improve the catastrophic state of media freedoms, but also of democracy, because only an informed citizen can be an active participant in the decision-making process.

Subotic also announced that, once they are officially presented with the REM decision, televisions N1 and Nova S will use all legal means at their disposal.

At today’s sitting the REM also decided to publish a new tender for the fifth license, which is an attempted manipulation so the society would focus on that issue rather than on the fact that the same television stations once again “deserved” to use frequencies as a public good for another eight years.

Proof that this is just another authorities’ scenario aimed at shifting the focus to the award of the fifth frequency is also the fact that there wasn’t a single reason why this competition was not called together with the one that ended today.

Instead of the much-needed media freedom that the European Union is also spotlighting, today it is even clearer to the Serbian citizens that the firm hand of dictatorship and media censorship will not loosen its grip, but only become more brutal.