The project “Monitoring the efficiency, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of regulatory media bodies – Performance Monitoring” is implemented by Eurotink – Centre for European Strategies, in cooperation with NGO Info-centre, Transparency Macedonia and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of the Republic of Macedonia, and is ready based on the “Monitoring Matrix for the work of AVMS and AEK.
As explained by Hristena Jovancheva, public relations in Eurotink, this fourth quarterly report, in addition to the work of the two regulatory bodies, also refers to the citizens’ opinions on topics related to the media and electronic communications in Macedonia, through which it was organized by focus groups.
Biljana Bejkova, Executive Director of the NGO Info-center, referred to the report according to which in the third quarter of 2017 AEC did not notice significant changes in terms of transparency and accountability. Information on the three web sites has been regularly updated, she said, but stagnation is noticed in social media. “As we already informed in the previous report – said Bejkova, AEK has already lowered the donation items for over 75 million denars, and increased the item for construction of the antenna system of Vodno for over 90 million denars. In this quarter, it was emphasized that AEK did not make a decision for any donations.
According to Snezana Trpevska, media expert, what is lacking is insufficient involvement of other key institutions and the absence of a general media literacy strategy that will define all spheres of public policies. According to Trpevska, this is just extinguishing fires. Since, on the one hand, there is work on the awareness and evaluation of the content by the citizens, on the other hand there are many media with politicized ownership.
Goran Lazarov from Eurotink, Project Coordinator, referred to the results of the focus groups. Three focus groups were presented, with 29 citizens, out of 12 cities. It was found that citizens generally do not know and distinguish the competencies of both agencies. The general perception is that they are government bodies, although they are independent non-profit regulatory bodies. Trust in independence in both agencies is at a low level.
65% of the participants recognized the AEC about the possibility to file a complaint if they are not satisfied with one of the services of the operators. Unlike the AEC, a much smaller number of citizens recognize AVMU, that is, only 24%, as a regulator where they can register a program with offensive content. Interesting fact is that citizens connect the work of AVMU only with the elections, that is, AVMU regulates which party how many will be represented on each of the televisions during the election campaign. None of the participants visited the AVMU website.
The visibility of the activities of the two agencies is weak and according to the recommendations of the report is something that the two agencies must work in the future.
According to Slavica Biljarska, Public Relations Specialist, the problems of poor visibility are few. She explained that when she tried to search Google with the question “How to file a complaint to AVMU?” She failed to get any information. This is said to be due to the fact that the brochures and main information on the website are put in PDF format, which the search engines do not recognize. The website is generally a questionable design, and the entrance to it is chaotic, while reports are overwhelming and time-consuming – said Slavica.
About the AEK’s work on their visibility, she said that it was very puzzling for her that the Agency had even three web pages. She noted that the regulator does not use the other communication channels at all. For her, one of the biggest problems is the existence of a contact form for filing questions and objections. She urged both agencies to urgently make communication strategies, not only on paper, but also to implement them.
The entire report can be read HERE