BUDAPEST — The Serb parliament was forced to hold a special session on July 15 to reiterate its support for three members of the Broadcast Agency Council whom critics claim were appointed illegally.
Lawmakers are attempting to throw water on a spat that threatens to slow down privatization of the TV industry, skedded to take place before the end of the year.
The controversy began earlier this year when parliament named Nenad Cekic, Vladimir Cvetkovic and Goran Radenovic to the newly created Broadcast Agency Council, but violated self-imposed regulations.
Cekic and Cvetkovic’s resumes were not made publicly available before their appointment, as the rules demand, and Radenovic became the Kosovo delegate even though he is a long-time resident of Montenegro.
Belgrade deflected mounting criticism from trade organizations until early July when Maurizio Massari, topper of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Serbia, demanded that parliament hold a new vote for the council. Two sitting council members resigned over the controversy.
Massari stated a new vote was the only way for the council to win the legitimacy and respect needed to plow forward with an ambitious privatization and media reform initiative.
In the fresh parliamentary vote, the government secured a multi-party endorsement for its appointees.
This support from opposition and hardliners alike has given the council a mandate to move forward with the complicated job of offering up to three state frequencies for tender in the coming months, an initiative expected to liberalize, modernize, and open the Serbian TV territory up to western investment.
Despite the euphoria that has settled on the Serbian industry, the July 15 vote did not silence all critics. The Assn. of Independent Electronic Media stated that a parliamentary rubber stamp did not change the fact that the three council members were appointed illegally.