BUDAPEST — Croatia’s cultural ministry has drafted a law that lifts restrictions on the concentration of ownership in the media of this former Yugoslav republic.
Proposal does away with Article 33, which limits the number of media outlets a company can control based on viewership.
However, cultural ministry officials say Article 33 is already redundant because a separate statute on market competition restricts media ownership by virtue of a company’s control of the ad market, and not through a tally of its networks, outlets, viewers or readers.
It isn’t clear how this would square with state media, cable outlets and pay TV services, which do not rely on advertising for revenue, however.
International watchdogs already have raised the alarm about the current law’s inability to prevent political interference in broadcasting.
In February, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) declared Croatia’s law on state radio and television “broadly” consistent with European Union standards, but cautioned that it “does not exclude possible political intervention.”
Specifically, the OSCE criticized Croatia for “the long parliamentary process” needed to appoint the executive council of Croatia’s national radio and television net.
The draft law is expected to replace Croatia’s media statute, struck down after the nation’s high court ruled it unconstitutional because it had been passed without a clear majority in the parliament.
According to the cultural ministry, the draft law, almost identical to the existing statute except for the clause concerning the relaxation of restrictions on media ownership, should be passed by April 30.