Serb TV gets overhaul

Parliament to create independent regulatory body

BELGRADE — Serbia is beginning to reform its outlaw TV industry, which until the Oct. 5 revolution was little more than a political soapbox for Yugoslav dictator Slobodan Milosevic.

The Media Center Broadcast Law working group submitted draft legislation to the republic’s parliament Friday to create an independent regulatory body, called the Broadcast Council of Serbia, which will monitor the sector and transform Serbia’s state broadcasters into Western-style public-service channels.

Tax support, new regs

State TV revenues will initially be derived from a flat-rate electricity tax. The Broadcast Council would also set conditions for establishing new channels, allocating frequencies and defining types of programming.

“We want to send a message that there will be no special privileges for people or companies” under Serbia’s new regime, said Dragoslav Sumarac, a rep from the government’s anti-corruption commission.

Although there is no word yet on when parliament is expected to pass the legislation, analysts expect lawmakers to work quickly to regulate the TV industry. Although rules are expected to mirror EU standards, the draft law submitted to parliament a week ago reduces the amount of inhouse programming to be aired over privately held channels from 50% to 25%, presumably to reduce the amount of political preaching over the Serb airwaves, and increase the sector’s entertainment value.

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