The decision of Serbia's media watchdog, the Council of the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM), to place N1 and Nova S televisions under scrutiny during the election campaign is seen by some analysts as a new form of pressure and intimidation of these TVs.
The REM Council member Olivera Zekic told the Danas daily that this is a common practice and N1 said they welcome the monitoring because they respect all ethical and professional rules and regulations.
Equal representation of all political actors during the election campaign was the obligation of all broadcasters with national frequency, however, the obligation now extends to cable television. Olivera Zekic told Danas daily that this is a common practice, made possible by the Convention on Transfrontier Television.
“During the election campaign, all televisions, both national and cable, whose program is available on the territory of the Republic of Serbia are monitored. Whether they are registered in Bosnia, Croatia, Montenegro or Luxembourg is irrelevant, what is relevant is their program is visible to Serbian citizens,” Zekic noted.
Igor Bozic, N1’s executive producer, told the Danas daily that this television adheres to all the rules, both ethical and professional, and that it provides for equal representation of parties in the election process. He added that they welcome the monitoring and that “at the end of the monitoring process we could also see the results of all other TV stations.”
Asked whether N1 could be warned of not providing the same air time to all political entities as a result of the monitoring since SNS officials do not want to appear on this television, Bozic said that equality will be respected, despite this fact.
“We respect equality in our news programs because we broadcast important daily events. The decision of whether or not they want to appear in our programme is a matter for the parties themselves. As you know, the SNS didn’t come to our programme for years, and we’ve been told unofficially that it is a matter of party discipline,” Bozic said.
On the other hand, political analyst Boban Stojanovic told Danas that he does not know what could be the motive behind the REM’s monitoring decision, except for intimidation and continued pressure on N1 and Nova S.