A number of media NGOs expressed their disagreement and concern about the amendments adopted to the Code of Audiovisual Media Services by Parliament in its plenary sitting of September 23, 2021. The amendments allow for the dismissal of the members of the Audiovisual Council (AC) individually or collectively if “defective” management or improper fulfillment of the obligations of AC member is established, IPN reports.
In a statement issued on September 24, the signatory NGOs said they are fully convinced that the AC members, as the members of any public authority, must show responsibility or be made accountable. At the same time, the reduced efficiency of the AC is actually caused not by the irremovabilty of the members of this institution, but by the procedure for designating these – according to political criteria, as a result of mimicked public contests and in the absence of adequate parliamentary control, which is against the law.
The media NGOs note the amendments made to the law discourage the representatives of civil society from taking part in the contest announced by the specialty parliamentary commission to fill vacancies inside the AC. In the current formula, the adopted changes run counter to the quality standards of the law (accessibility, predictability and clarity) and can determine the subjugation of the AC members to any parliamentary majority (generated by the possibility of dismissing a CA member at any time).
According to the signatories, the AC can fulfill its duties only if it enjoys institutional and decisional independence. The new changes made to the law do not strengthen the independence of the Council. On the contrary, they make this institution dependent on political will and can make the AC members take decisions that would suit the power.
The statement was signed by the Electronic Press Association, the Independent Journalism Center, “Acces-Info” Center and Media Guard Association.