The new deadline for the privatization of media will be October 31 this year, it has been concluded in the amendments to the Law on public information and media, which have been passed today in the Serbian Assembly. Despite the heated debate and several suggested amendments that asked for the deadline to be extended until October 31 for the Radio Yugoslavia, too, the MPs have not accepted that suggestion. The report of Mirjana Nikolic.
The resolve of the Ministry of Culture and Information to have the changes to the law adopted in the exact form that had envisaged was evident from the beginning of the session, when it was communicated that the Government had not accepted any of 35 proposed amendments. Three of those amendments were relation to our radio, so several delegates from both the ruling coalition and the opposition parties have asked that the International Radio Serbia be offered the chance to survive. The longest and best supported case for our house was presented by the whip of the Socialist Party’s MP club Dijana Vukomanovic, who reminded of the significance of informing the world public and Diaspora in 12 languages. She has pledged for pondering one more time in the ministry on keeping the media house, whose expenses are multiple times smaller than the Tanjug Agency, but the response was clear. Minister of Culture and Media Ivan Tasovac has underlined that we live in a digital era, the short waves being a matter of the past, and while there was readiness to do it, the solution could not have been found. In order to dispel any dilemma, he stressed that the employees should not be offered false hope, i.e. that with the modest social program all 96 workers of the International Radio Serbia will be rendered jobless as of August 1.
Our case was also discussed by the president of the Board for Culture and Information, Vesna Marjanovic of the Democratic Party, who asked for the equal treatment, and why do reporters in the local media or Tanjug have wider rights than those in the state-owned media. The independent MP from the Movement for Turnover Janko Veselinovic also stood in defense of the amendment by raising the question of who will get the short wave frequency of Serbia, but his question was not answered. The only thing sure is that the property of the Radio Yugoslavia is yet to be decided upon by the Serbian Government. The delegates of the Progressive Party have supported the extinguishing of our radio, albeit admitting they do not exactly know what is at issue. On the other side, it was noticeable that the same party was in favor of keeping the Tanjug Agency within the state ownership.
That way, the current Serbian Government, just like all those after 2000, has shown they are only interested in the interior political influence, while the promotion of the country abroad is not the priority. The MPs have been told that numerous eminent people from the domains of sport and culture, as well as many listeners had signed a petition to preserve the International Radio Serbia, but to no avail. In the end, the employees of the Radio Yugoslavia are neither the first nor the last to fell the burden of the saying “fish begins to stink at the head, but it is cleaned from the tail”.