Monitoring the European integration process: Media Sector Reforms Halfway completed reforms – the political will is here one minute, gone the next

This document is the result of research conducted within the project Fact-checking of the progress of the Republic of North Macedonia towards the EU“, implemented by the Metamorphosis Foundation for Internet and Society from Skopje, with the support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The project is being implemented during 2021 and 2022.

The main problems in the media sector in North Macedonia are still present, as they were detected in the last few years, although there are concrete steps forward in at least one important segment – the safety of media workers.

  • After lengthy negotiations and reconciliations, the Government of RNM agreed to amend the criminal legislation so that threatening or attacking journalists and media workers will be treated as a criminal act for which they will be prosecuted ex officio.
  • The danger of influencing the editorial policy of the media is still a reality, given the fact that the 2018 election legislation envisages that the media coverage of the parties’ election campaigns will be financed from the Budget where the media have to register for monitoring the elections, and then the parties themselves through their system of preferences determine where in which media they will spend the money.
  • A new composition of the Programming Council of MRT (NRT) and a new composition of the Media Agency are still not elected, although the attempts last from 2018 onwards.
  • The funding of MRT (NRT) remains at the lowest possible level provided by law, i.e. about 0.6 percent of the Budget for the previous year for the entire broadcasting sector, although, when the legal amendments adopted in December 2018 were negotiated, it was agreed that in the following five years that percentage shall reach 1 percent, of which 75 percent are intended for MRT. The slightly increased funding of the MIA agency, which still has the status of a state-owned joint-stock company, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been stopped, i.e. the funds remain at a minimum.
  • A strategy for the development of the media sector as a whole, at the state level, does not yet exist, nor are there any announcements that such a thing is being considered. The Regulatory Strategy for the period 2019 – 2023[1], developed and adopted in 2019 by the Agency for Audio-Visual Media and Media Services is the only document in force.

 

The main document, the report on the situation in the media, is accompanied by information on the significant situation and activities in the other three areas, public administration reforms, judicial reforms and reforms in the field of fundamental rights in RNM, which took place at the quarterly level from July until the end of September 2021.

 

 

[1] AAVMMS – March 2019 – Regulatory strategy for the development of audio and audio-visual activity for the period from 2019 to 2023. (Available at: https://bit.ly/3zVa3MM )