Skopje, 15 January 2024 – The Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media Services hereby informs the public that, today, it filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Information Society and Administration, as the latter has been continuously violating the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, thereby jeopardizing the functioning of the entire audiovisual sector.
The amendments made to the Law in July last year, which had been proposed by this Ministry precisely, stipulate the exact amount of funds from the State Budget allocated for financing the broadcasting activity, for the purpose of enabling the Agency, the Macedonian Radio and Television (MRT) and the Macedonian Radio Broadcasting (MRD) Public Enterprise’s operations.
Contrary to its legal obligation, the Ministry of Information Society and Administration has been transferring less funds than those legally prescribed, i.e. in the past six months, the regulator has received MKD 4,812,030.00 less than the prescribed amount. In fact, the negative practice of cutting the funds has been going on for quite some time, as the Ministry of Information Society and Administration used to transfer less funds even before the adoption of the latest legal amendments, by implementing the discretionary right granted by the previous law.
Such arbitrary cutbacks of the funding constitute direct violation of the Law and bring into question not only the Agency’s independence, but also the performance of its competencies. Following the alignment of the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services with the latest European standards and regulations, the Agency has received additional obligations and, now, it has competencies over other entities on the market as well, such as the video sharing platforms and the influencers.
The violation of the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services creates legal uncertainty and negatively affects the operations of the Agency, the MRT and the MRD, as well as of the entire audiovisual sector. Compliance with the Law is a prerequisite for positive progress within the European integration processes, as well as for the Macedonian media, organizations and associations’ access to the EU funds allocated for the development of the audiovisual sphere and culture, the total budget of which, under the Creative Europe programme 2021-2027, is nearly 2,5 billion Euros.
This is the reason why the Agency approached the Ministry on two occasions, however, both appeals were unsuccessful, due to which, in order to protect its rights, the Agency has filed a lawsuit before the Basic Civil Court in Skopje.