Eurothink – Centre for European Strategies, NGO Info-Centre, Transparency Macedonia and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights presented today the second periodic monitoring report on the work of the Agency for Audio and Audio-visual Media Services (AVMS) and the Agency for Electronic Communications (AEC) within the project “Monitoring the effectiveness, effectiveness, transparency and accountability of regulatory bodies for media – PROformance Watch II”.
In this second periodic monitoring report on the work of AEC and AVMS (October – December 2018), qualitative assessments and quantitative data on the transparency and accountability of the two regulatory bodies were published, for the period October – December 2018.
In the last quarter of 2018, AVMS showed continuity in its accountable and transparent operation. The website of the Agency is regularly updated with documents and other information related to the work of AVMS. Based on our recommendation from the previous report on continuing the practice for regular publication of notices on concluded public procurement contracts, AVMS updated and published the information on the contracts concluded in 2018 – said Biljana Bejkova from NGO Info-Centre.
AVMS in this period warned of possible clientelism of one medium towards the government. This reaction, aimed at protecting the integrity of the media, is a novelty for the AVMS because in the past years, despite numerous examples of direct connection between the former government and media owners (at the national and local level) and direct interference in the editorial policy of the media, AVMS never alarmed and did not react to such phenomena, which negatively affected the freedom, independence and professionalism of the media and journalists – added Biljana Bejkova.
In the fourth quarter of 2018, no significant changes were noted regarding the transparency of the AEC. Transparency and accountability are provided in large part, but, as noted in the previous reports, there is room for significant improvement in terms of disclosure of information and management of existing communication tools.
In this quarter, AEC extended the deadline for construction of the antenna monitoring and control system (for more than two years). AEC decided to file a warning before a lawsuit to the Public Transport Company Skopje (JSP Skopje), due to the donation intended for the Panorama Wheel. As it is known, the Government stopped the construction of the Panorama Wheel, but JSP Skopje has not yet delivered to AEC any financial report on the spending of the donation funds. The continuation of the construction deadline, as well as the absence of any information about the donated funds, undermines the effectiveness of the regulator’s work – said Marjan Stepanovski from EuroThink.
Snezana Trpevska referred to the amendments to the Law on Audio and Audio-visual Media Services and pointed out that it cannot be the end of the reforms. According to her, there must be strategic, long-term solutions. Regulatory bodies in the past period worked, they had numerous activities, but, in terms of strategic issues or long-term changes in the media sector, it cannot be said that they were effective. Even some of the issues in the adopted amendments to the Law on Audio and Audio-visual Media Services are anti-reform. The changes in the electoral regulation, which should have been valid only for the referendum, but have been left out and will now apply to the presidential elections, again put the media in a financial-political triangle. So, we introduce clientelism on an open door with legal provisions, Trpevska said.
German Filkov from the Centre for Civil Communications dissuaded the key aspects of the annual financial plans as well as the most significant activities related to the performance and transparency of regulators. He pointed out that the programs are essentially differences in structure and proposed a unified format of programs where there will be a clear connection between the program and the financial implications.
According to him, what is crucial for the two institutions is linking the program activities from their annual spending plans, that is, with the specific budget items to get a more complete picture of the operation.
Filkov added that in cases when the regulator has excess revenues over the necessary operating expenses, the question arises whether it does not “take up” too much of those that regulate it and from which it collects revenues. Or, on the contrary, with the collected money does not invest enough in the development of the sphere it regulates. These two things must always be considered when talking about development, because both go in that direction. Or you will take less money and with that you will receive more money for development, or invest more in the sphere by creating an ambience that will stimulate the development of stakeholders.
The PROformance Watch II project is implemented with the financial support of the UK Embassy in Macedonia.
You can view the full report at the following link.