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ACTION PLAN For Improvement of the Media Landscape in the Republic of Macedonia Having minded that: - Macedonia is a highly politicized society, with significant political influence on the functioning of the media; - The media market is not regulated, while laws are applied in a selective manner; - Punishments and fines against media and journalists are become higher, while self-censorship is widespread; - Professional and ethical standards in the media are deteriorating; - Almost all subjects in the media sphere (state institutions, politicians, media, journalists) in the past years have contributed to the creation of the negative atmosphere in the media; The media community recognizes the need of thorough and essential changes in the media sphere, and is ready to take the lead in overcoming this unfavorable situation, adhering to the following principles: - Citizens of Macedonia deserve high quality media and professional and ethical informing, and a strong public broadcasting service, which has a special role in establishing and maintaining quality journalism and information standards - Media sphere should be based on democratic and market principles; - Laws should enable freedom of expression and fair market conditions; - To protect media pluralism; - To be precise and applicable; - To provide protection of the public interest, normal and undisturbed functioning of the media, free from economic and political pressure - The media and journalists must be involved in any process of changes and amendments to the laws in the media sphere; - Media and journalists should take the responsibility and contribute substantially in improving of the professional and ethical standards in the media, primarily through establishing an efficient self-regulatory body; The action plan presented herein is created by a group of journalists, editors, media owners and representatives of media organizations and institutions, with an aim to serve as basis/platform, upon which further policies and steps in the direction of improving the situation with the media in Macedonia will be built and implemented.




Issues 1. DEFAMATION AND INSULT IN THE CRIMINAL CODE (DECRIMINALISATION) - large fines, most of them for journalists, low responsibility of editors-in-chief - Proceedings are used to exert pressure (economic and political) on newsrooms and journalists - the practice of the Court in Strasbourg is not applied -It encourages self-censorship

2. IMPLEMENTATION OF LAWS THAT REGULATE THE MEDIA SPHERE - Legislation is implemented selectively, important provisions are not implemented, thus distorting the media environment -part of the legislation is dispersed in several laws, there are inconsistencies and overlapping of jurisdictions observed; In the area of Broadcast Law (BL) and the Broadcasting Council (BC): -The Law is not aligned with the AVMS Directive of the EU -last changes in BL on the composition of BC are inappropriate, thus undermining the position and the independence of the regulatory body -Important provisions on media concentration, ownership of media and bankruptcy procedures are not clear or are not implemented -By issuing of new broadcast licenses by the

Stakeholders (target groups) - Media (journalists, editorsin-chief, owners) - Public officials - Judiciary - The international community - The legislator




Processing in courts shouldn’t be used for exerting pressure on journalists and editorial policy. Should these acts be decriminalized and transferred to civil procedure, fines for intangible damage should be limited (for example, with recommendation of the Supreme Court to limit damage payments in accordance with journalists’ income). To encourage courts to apply the practice of the Court in Strasbourg

3 months

- the Regulator - competent Ministries - Agency for Electronic Communication, State Election Commission, AntiCorruption Commission, Commission for Protection of Competition - Media (journalists, editors, owners, AJM and other professional organizations, the Union) - Operators - Public officials - the legislator - Judiciary - International community

An in-depth analysis of media legislation is required, in a serious and continuous public debate Proposed solutions should include the stances of the media community, which should always be part of the processes of drafting of any changes regarding the media environment

1. Analysis of the current practice in RM and of positive practices in Europe 2. Debates on current regulation and possible solutions 3. Engagement of the supreme Court 4. Working group for formulating of a precise proposal and lobbying 5. Negotiations for amending or adopting a new legal solution (to amend the Criminal Code, a 2/3 majority is required) Forming of a working group (task force) with representatives of all stakeholders, whose duty will be to follow the process closely, to detect shortcomings precisely based upon the results of the process, and to suggest solutions

In this regard: - We demand consistent, complete and non-selective implementation of existing laws and rules - Providing an independent position of the regulator (BC), while the regulator should implement the BL fully, without exemptions – Implementation of Labor Law in the media, in cooperation with

3 months – 1 year

1. Implementation of laws regulating the media landscape to be included as an item in the dialogue with the Government of RM led by the AJM 2. Analysis of laws, defining areas where the problem is within the essence of the provisions or lack of such, and areas where the problem lies in lack of implementation 3. Monitoring the implementation of laws by regulatory bodies and media


BC, the media market is additionally distorted -There are examples of disrespecting and nonimplementing of program and technical standards as foreseen in the BL and licenses issued by the BC -The in-house production of domestic TV stations in the prime-time is marginalized, foreign purchased programs dominate in this period -BC does not fully implement some technical and program requirements foreseen in the BL; -There is lack of equality between domestic and foreign TV channels during distribution of programs through cable operators - the BC has no resources to implement all its jurisdictions especially in the area of supervising program (own production) and fulfillment of standards by broadcasters and the monitoring of the media content - there are shortcomings in the BL in the part regarding management and supervision of MRT, which undermine the independence of the PBS - there is a lack of efficient, not only declarative cooperation between institutions, as well as overlapping of jurisdictions, and cases where the role of BC is derogated (the example with the Official Gazette, when campaign rules adopted by the BC prior to Elections 2011 were not published) - After BC passes fines for media, the secondinstance appeal procedure before the Court is slow - Lack of transparency in the work of BC, mostly in the area of delegating members of BC through authorized delegating institutions, and in issuing broadcast licenses - In practice, there is no gradation in

inspection authorities - Signing of Collective agreement between the owners and media workers, which will regulate labor conditions in the context of labor and social rights, establishing of minimal wage and other issues - Trials that involve media should be processed in a reasonable time period, while fines for media and journalists should be proportionate with their influence, the damage done, and the economic power - the Law on free access to public information should be implemented fully and consistently -The digitalization should provide more quality and airing space for the content on the PBS, and should not endanger the broadcasting of other media in the digital format, especially of the local media - digitalization should enable more quality and space for content in the PBS and should not endanger broadcasting of other commercial media in the new, digital format – first and foremost the local media

organizations 4. Preparation of a Report (based on the analyses of previous steps, plus opinions obtained from international factors and domestic experts) 5.Defining precise proposals for amendments/ mechanisms/ activities, in cooperation with the BC and other competent bodies and stakeholders 5. Where current solutions are impossible to implement, to prepare and formulate precise proposals/ solutions 6. If analysis show that a new way of regulating is needed (for example a Media Law), to define precisely which areas will it regulate, and to diminish any possibility for this legislation to regulate the content and affect the autonomy of the newsrooms in practicing of editorial policies - The process should be led by the media community, without political influences and imposed decisions, by using fully the domestic expertise, as well as the experiences and solutions in countries that are positive role-models regarding media freedom


punishments and fines imposed on the media (according to license, whether its a local or national media, radio etc., fines are the same for all) In the part of labor relations and the Law on Labor Relations (LLR) - Provisions of the LLR are not respected; - Labor engagements are irregular in most of the cases (workers are not properly registered and reported, there is a misuse of authorial contracts which are used to replace the employment contracts in practice, employees are blackmailed to sign blanc resignation letters, social security and retirement is not paid by employers, etc.); - There are no collective agreements signed between employers and employees; - Minimal wage is not regulated - In certain media there is a direct, while in some others indirect ban for organizing workers unions; -Non-existence of internal rules, statutes, defining of rights and obligations of owners, editors and journalists -Associations of media employers do not exist In the Election Code (EC) - The EC increases advertising time in the campaign period, which puts it in contradiction with the BL, and also in contradiction with the AVMS Directive of the EU, which sets up a principle of 20% of ad time in a real hour, or 12 minutes of ads per hour; -The EC enables media companies to donate 5% of their annual income to a campaign of a political party -State Election Commission has competencies over print media in the pre-election period In the part of Copyright Law


- The Copyright Law is problematic, it affects the economic condition of the media through high compensatory fees for author agencies, it’s illogical and inconsistent in the payment part, the money does not ultimately end up being paid to authors of the aired content In the part of free access to public information - Problem with the access to public information, not all information holders are transparent, the deadline of 30 days for disclosure of public information upon a request is inadequate for the media In the part of digitalization and future distribution of programs The digitalization process is being carried out slowly and without proper transparency, especially in the process of allocating of the multiplexes, there is a concern regarding existence and broadcasting on the multiplexes in the near future, especially among local media Non-regulated relations in the print media -Free-of-charge newspapers are not regulatedpossibility for unfair competition -The Law that regulates the right to correction and denial is an old law taken over from SFRY, it is with an outdated and inadequate terminology, it is forgotten about and it is not respected -Appearing of forms of media concentration, tied advertisements, monopoly of distribution 3. REGULATION OF THE MEDIA AND ADVERTISING MARKET, REGULATING STATE ADVERTISMENTS AND CAMPAIGNS - small market for so many media, bad economic conditions - non-implementation of the regulation on media concentration and unfair competition (media

-Media and owners of media - Advertising agencies - Advertisers - the Government, ministries and public institutions -Regulatory bodies (BC, Anti-Monopoly Commission,

Activities in this regard should provide conditions for economic sustainability of media and stability of the media market, including: - Implementation of anti-monopoly rules, disabling illegal media concentration, elimination of unfair

Forming of a working group (task force) with representatives of all stakeholders, whose duty will be to follow the process closely, to detect shortcomings precisely, and to suggest solutions, through: 1.Analysis of the current situation on

Part of the activities to regulate state advertising and campaigns


with small spending in programming compete on the same market, with lower ad prices) - Lack of clear criteria regarding budget funds for public campaigns and advertising, selective advertising of the state on those media that have a more favorable editorial policy; - Non-transparency in the work of marketing agencies, and their major influence on the media content - Within commercial advertisers selective advertising, based on non-market criteria is observed, in addition to disrespect of free market rules by the advertisers, marketing agencies and owners, offering of large discounts and other distortions; - Lack of transparency in circulation and ratings figures and stats - non-existence / inactivity of associations of owners/ media businesses/ media industry - non-existence of coordination systems of all participants in the media market -Lack of systems to monitor the dispersion of ads from the marketing agencies

Anti-Corruption Commission)

competition - Clear criteria regarding distribution of funds from state/public commercials and campaigns, and providing mechanisms accountability of institutions on the placement of ads, based on criteria such as reach of target audience, ratings and trust, language of the target group, geographical dispersion etc. - Greater and full transparency of ownership of media; - Greater transparency of the relations between media and advertisers regarding finances that enter the media, especially in regards to ad prices, the enormous discounts for certain advertisement agencies and companies, as well as in the area of state ads and campaigns; - Establishing independent mechanisms and bodies in the media industry and market sphere that would regulate the relations among the players in the market and would supervise the implementation of agreed mechanisms, for instance: Codices, self-regulatory bodies, multipartite industry committees, which would determine the criteria and manner of operation of the industry (e.g. lowest ad price) - Mechanisms for more transparent operation of marketing agencies - Providing real independence of regulatory bodies on media market and financing

the market and the current regulation regarding the media market 2. Monitoring of implementation of laws by regulatory bodies, providing precise arguments (locating where legislation is impossible to be implemented, where it is not implemented, and where new legal solutions are necessary) 3. Preparation of a Report, based on the monitoring and analysis, as well as on the opinions of international and domestic experts 4. Debates on current legal regulation and searching for solutions to improve the economic conditions in which media function 5. Debates among advertisers, media and agencies on founding a joint industry bodies, with precise activity plans 5. Defining concrete proposals for changes of laws 6. Debate on advertising regulation 7. Debate on legislation amendments on transforming media companies in shareholders’ companies, with presence on stockexchange markets 8. Debate on possible law changes that would foresee an obligation for national media to become stockholders companies, and be present on the stock-exchange market 9. Defining concrete proposals for legislation changes

6-9 months (criteria for public marketing), the other intervention s up to 2 years


4. SUBSIDIZING MEDIA - There is no sustainable and functional model of subsidizing of media which are endangered (web penetration, world trends), primarily the media of ethnic communities, of marginalized groups and print media - Subsidizing is not conducted on grounds of projects of public interest or projects relating to regional/ local level, minority communities/ marginalized groups, etc. - Many local/ regional/ minorities media have perished, others are struggling to survive - Non-profitable media, whose existence is foreseen in the BL, have not been functioning - Previous subsidizing models were not transparent, and raised doubts for corruption - Media pluralism is endangered, media become more “yellow”, “unattractive” serious content, such as education or documentary programs, suffers and get less attention in the newsrooms

- Media (local media, radios, ethnic communities’ media, independent content producers) - the Government, Ministries and public institutions - Local self-government - Regulatory bodies - the Public Broadcasting Service - Civil sector/CSOs

The state should provide models of subsidizing, which will enable increasing of the production of media content of public interest, protection of media pluralism, and of the right of the citizens to be informed, bearing in mind the linguistic barriers, geographic affiliation, marginalized groups etc. The models of subsidizing should be with precise criteria, which will disable abuse of these funds

10. Negotiations and changing of the legislation Forming a working group (task force) Mid-term for formulation of concrete 6 months – proposals, encompassing all the 2 years stakeholders 1. Analysis, focused on how the legal framework influences the existence of non-for-profit media content, which is important for the media pluralism 2. Monitoring of media content, so as to define weaknesses in the creation of a public interest media content 3. Preparation of a Report, based on opinions of international factors and domestic experts, with concrete evidence where and what does not function (analyses of step 1 and 2 will be used) 4. Where the problem lies with legislation or non-implementation, precise proposals, amendments, recommendations should be defined 6. Negotiations and harmonization among the stakeholders 7. Concrete proposals on implementation and amendments to the regulation and market rules




Issues 1. STRONG POLITICAL PRESSURE ON THE EDITORIAL POLICY, ESPECIALLY ON THE INFORMATIVE PROGRAM: - MRT is not fulfilling fully the mission and function of a PBS, - Favoring the governing political parties - Informing during an election campaign is politically unbalanced, - The correspondents network is insufficiently developed, and the method of informing on events is instrumentalized; - The Council of MRT is not sufficiently active and does not fully accomplish its role; -Journalism standards and internal rules are not respected - such as the MRT Declaration, rules to cover elections, etc. - Media pluralism, whose main protector should be the PBS, is not fully realized; - Insufficient activity and transparency of MRT on the web, the web page is not functional, there is no activity on social networks, there is no information on the web page on the leadership structure and persons responsible, no information on who are the editors or the people in the managing bodies and structures and in the programming services -The quality of journalistic products in PBS has deteriorated -Journalists in the PBS have a status of state officials 2. CADRE POLICY IN PBS A. Media cadre and overall investment in

Stakeholders (target groups) - Political entities (opposition and position): - Government and other authorities (executive, legislative and judicial), - The management of MRT, - Editors - Journalists, - The Council of MRT, and -The Management Board -International Community

- Political entities (opposition and position):




 Providing institutional autonomy and editorial independence of MRT  Defining ways and manner to eliminate political pressure

- Change / simplifying of the management structure of the PBS, because at the moment there are three bodies which make the management process inadequate; - Precise definition of the competencies of MRT bodies in the Law; - Adopting a Declaration in the Parliament on political and financial independence of MRT; - Signing of a Charter between MRT and the Government, which would define joint cooperation areas (aims, functions, obligations and activities); such examples can be found in several Western European countries -Approaching towards changing of the present legislation and/or defining new legal solutions that would apply to the PBS

12 months

- AJM to initiate the agreed measures in the negotiation process

3 months

-Providing conditions for non-


human resources are very limited and insufficient - part of the staff is not productive - lack of proper working conditions for better quality performance, outdated technology B. Management cadre - Lack of transparency in selection procedures, and in management decision-making processes -The model of managing the PBS foreseen in the BL is extensive and inadequate, there are too many decision-making bodies (Managing Board, council of MRT, CEOs), there is a “high” hierarchy structure, there is overlapping of competencies, there are too many people involved in high management, thus making the management model expensive and inefficient. Namely, the Council is comprised of 23 people, the Managing Board of 7 members, an executive managing body of 4 people (CEOs), responsible editors of program services, in one word, lots of people, over 50 -The managing body which should be the moving force of all processes is marginalized -Political influence is observed in operations -Unclear and suspicious criteria for selection of candidates for managers and for members of management bodies 3. FINANCING THE PBS - Insufficient budget -Expenses for undisturbed functioning of the PBS are not precisely established, there is also lack of transparency in managing of the funds - Broadcasting fee/tax is not collected fully - MRT has limited income from other sources, for example production, does not generate revenue from state commercials, and

- Government and state bodies (executive, legislative and judicial), - The management of MRT, - Editors - Journalists, - The Council of MRT - The Managing Board - The experts’ community -CSOs

partisanship and professionalism in the PBS - Changes in the current legislation in order to provide autonomy of the PBS, - Reviewing parts of the Law that refer to the selection of management bodies - Providing mechanisms for complete implementation of the Law - Comparing of models - European models or those similar to the Republic of Macedonia - Active participation of stakeholders in the preparation of the normative framework

with the Government of RM and to initiate a meeting with political parties, parliamentary groups and the Council of MRT, as well as with the Managing Board, -The goal of the action is to lobby constructive proposals obtained on the grounds of consensus - Public debate -Incorporating this issue in the Parliament’s Declaration and the Charter (to be signed between the government and MRT) -Approaching towards changing of the present legislation and/or defining new legal solutions that would apply to the PBS

- Political entities (opposition and position): - Governing authorities and state bodies (executive, legislative and judicial), -Directorate for Public Revenue (collects the Broadcast tax) - The management of MRTV,

 Providing a secure source of income, independent from the Government  Guaranteeing the political and financial independence of the PBS and the public interest  Full collection of the broadcasting fee  Precise establishing of annual

 In the next stages of the process to form an experts’ group that will work on these issues;  Besides full collection of the broadcast tax, other models should be considered, such as: a) Allocating funds, also from the Budget , for example a fixed percentage of the state Budget

12 months


generates limited income from advertisements

- Editors - Journalists, - The Council of MRT - The Managing Board - Citizens

expenses of PBS

4. LACK OF SECOND TV CHANNEL OF PBS AND SHORCOMINGS IN THE ETHNIC COMMUNITY PROGRAMS - the space for airing more sports, music, culture, education programs and content is too narrow - Space for live broadcasts of big sports events is limited - The level of quality and presence of such programs on the first TV channel of PBS is generally unsatisfactory -Programs of ethnic communities are very limited in time, while cadre and technical equipment of the newsrooms is at an even more concerning level than the programs of the PBS in Macedonian language

- Political entities (opposition and position): - Governing authorities and state bodies (executive, legislative and judicial), - The management of MRT, - Editors and journalists, - The Council of MRT - The Managing Board

 Enabling diverse television programs, with special emphasis on informal education and entertaining content  Improving of existing content on the PBS

5. THE RELATION OF THE PBS WITH COMMERCIAL MEDIA: - Support from private media regarding the payment of the broadcasting fee

- Political subjects (position and opposition) - The management of MRTV, - Editors and journalists, - The Council of MRT - The Managing Board - The civil sector/CSOs -Council of MRT - State institutions

 Providing space and models for cooperation and an opportunity for joint promotion among viewers

6 DEFINING THE “PUBLIC INTEREST” - The Council of MRT is not fully transparent and does not entirely fulfill its role to define issues that are relevant to the public interest, so that it could give directions to PBS newsrooms on issues that are important to the

 MRTV to be a service of the citizens, and not a service of the political parties  Pointing out examples, which news or reports are of public character/ public interest for the citizens

prescribed within the Law b) Adopting a model of a special mechanism for an independent financing MRT (for example, a certain percentage of the VAT to be re-allocated to the budget of PBS or similar actions) -The solution should be part of the legal framework on MRT - During the process of digitalization of MRT, it must be foreseen to allocate a second channel of TV on Macedonian language, for airing educational, documentary, sports and other entertainment broadcasts; -To foresee also separate channels and more space for broadcasting of programs of ethnic communities; -In order to establish second TV channel in Macedonian, changes in the law should be prepared, airing license should be obtained from the BC and frequency should be obtained from agency of electronic Communications

- Introducing this issue in the Charter that would be signed between MRT and the Government / Parliament - The Council of MRT should take responsibility in protecting the public

6 months

6 months


society, and which should be addressed by MRT in the content and the program; - State institutions are not active enough in informing the Council of MRT on public interest problems which that they face in their everyday work, for which there is a need for more information for the citizens; - There are no regular mechanisms, or intersector forums (neither in state institutions, nor in the PBS) where relevant public interest issues could be discussed, and where proposals on how to address these issues through PBS programs could be discussed;

interest; it should establish regular mechanisms to discuss the issues, where recommendations on how to address them through MRT programs could be defined. These mechanisms should be transparent and enable participation of citizens and CSOs; - State institutions should inform the Council regularly on relevant and actual data that point out newly emerged and actual societal problems; - CSOs should be more active in cooperation with the Council of MRT, while the Council should provide easy-to-access forms and mechanisms for submitting proposals that would be discussed by the Council, including an obligation to reply to those that propose initiatives





Stakeholders (target groups)





- Journalists - Media industry - The public

Functional system of self-regulation through an independent body (Ethics Council), comprised of journalists, media owners, and media experts, which would protect and affirm professional and ethical standards in journalism and the rights of the citizens in regards to the media content

1. Making the provisions of the Codex of journalists of Macedonia more precise 2. Revision of the Statute of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia 3. Capacity building, trainings / further proffesionalization/specializing of members of AJM’s Council of Honor 4.Forming of a three-partite body, for example the Ethics Council, responsible for evaluating media content 5. To encourage media, especially MRT, to create and practice internal codes and self-regulatory mechanisms

Up to 12 months

- Non-existence of a system for efficient selfregulation - Lack of respect for ethical and professional standards - Existence of “uniformed”, transmission journalism, lack of investigative journalism, growing trends of tabloidization of media and domination of propaganda; - Too many media and unfair competition on the market, newsrooms do more with less people, which has a negative impact on the content; -The quality of journalism products within local and regional media, which operate with lesser resources, is at an even more concerning level - The public is not sufficiently acquainted with what high-quality, professional journalism means - Ownership structure of media influences the (lack of) respecting of ethical and professional standards - Economic dependence of journalists, their existential (economic) uncertainty, and the pressure from owners and editors affects negatively the way in which content is being produced; it encourages self-censorship - Lack of continuous debate between journalists and media owners


2. LOW LEVEL OF GENERAL JOURNALISM EDUCATION AND SPECIFIC PROGRAMMES FOR SPECIALISATION OF JOURNALISTS - lack of real and practical journalism education - A large number of journalists is employed without adequate criteria and education, even in the PBS (competitions to employ people with completed high-school education) -editors do not motivate journalists to apply what they had learnt in training -non-existence of training “schools� within the newsrooms; -lack of trainings for journalists working in community language media

- Journalists - Media industry - Faculties of Journalism - Academic community - Media oriented non-governmental organizations

Good-quality high education for journalists and continuous specialized trainings for media workers on new media trends


- State institutions - Union of journalists and media workers - Employers

By signing of collective agreements and respecting labor rights, media workers will be relieved of the burden created by uncertainty in their social existence, which will consequently contribute to their greater independence and better media products

1. Common agreement between the From 6 faculties to find ways to improve months to 2 communication with the media years industry 2. Introducing mentorship as a way of transferring knowledge in newsrooms 3. Specialization/mid career trainings for journalists and other media workers according to the needs of the industry 4. Founding of a specialized journalism academy for journalists who do not have formal journalism education 5. Investing in projects which nurture investigative journalism and inclusion of students 6.Independent projects in cooperation with media, where journalism students will be involved 7.Creating trainings directed towards journalists who work in minority language media 8. Common campaign of the faculties and the media for the improvement of the image of the profession - Full respect of LLR - Negotiations between the union and the employers - Signing collective agreements - Creation of an Association of Media Owners, or revitalization of existing associations (APM, APEMM), which could then engage in discussions and negotiations with the union on a sector level


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS AJM – Association of Journalists of Macedonia AVMS Directive – Audio-Visual Media Services Directive of the European Union BL – Broadcast Law (Law on Broadcast Activities) BC – Broadcasting Council (regulatory body that implements the BL) CSO- Civil society organizations / Non-government organizations (NGOs) EC – Election Code LLR – Law on Labor Relations PBS – Public broadcasting Service (Macedonian Radio and Television – MRT) RM – Republic of Macedonia


Jurij Gagarin 17 -1/1, 1000 Skopje, R. Macedonia Phone: +389 23090144 Fax: +389 23090104

Gradski Zid blok 13, 1000 Skopje, R. Macedonia Phone: +389 23298139 Fax: +389 23116447

Supported by:


ACTION PLAN For Improvement of the Media Landscape in the Republic of Macedonia  
ACTION PLAN For Improvement of the Media Landscape in the Republic of Macedonia  

The action plan presented herein is created by a group of journalists, editors, media owners and representatives of media organizations and...