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The Association of Journalists of Macedonia today published the analysis of the draft Media Law by the British media legal expert Peter Noorlander. The analysis contains serious comments on the draft of the law due to the fact that a significant part of the solutions in the law are contrary to European standards established by the Council of Europe.
The expert questions the idea of regulation of print and internet media since it is not a European standard to stipulate a single regulatory regime for broadcasting, print and internet media alike. These three forms of media have very different characteristics and it is widely accepted that different standards should apply to them. “The wisdom of attempting to devise a single regulatory regime for all media should be questioned and the idea revisited”, says the expert in the analysis.    
The expert claims that the composition and the remit of the Media Agency do not comply with European recommendations, which insist on the principle that regulatory bodies must be independent of political interests. He reckons that the proposed solution enables political interests to easily control the Agency and therefore that part of the law needs to be revised. According to him, the Agency should not have the power to shut down media, but only to launch court proceedings. Such a need is even more accentuated, especially if the Agency is controlled by political interests. According to him, it is unacceptable to radically change the broadcasting regulator at a time when the media freedom in Macedonia is declining.
A third serious remark of the expert addresses the proposed structure of the MRTV Council, which risks being heavily politicised. He claims that such a solution is directly contrary to European standards of public media services management. There is another serious remark regarding the financing of MRTV in the analysis. According to the expert, the broadcasting fee should be realistic and possible to be collected, having in mind that in the past MRTV has had and still has problems with the securing of sustainable financing. 
The legal expert also questions article 4 of the law, which imposes several principles on media publishers, which, although based upon a legitimate cause, are broadly defined and could be susceptible to abuse. An example of this is the requirement that the media protect privacy, without allowing for any public interest exception, established by the judicial practice of the European Court of Human Rights. 
There are numerous other serious remarks in the expertise, which you will be able to see for yourselves.
Hence, AJM reckons that it would be best that the law is withdrawn, and that the Government suggests amendments and additions to the Law on Broadcasting Activity, in order to integrate the European Audiovisual Media Services Directive, and to leave the discussion on all other issues for more quite times.
The analysis of the Law has been produced at the request of the Association of Journalists of Macedonia, in the frames of the cooperation with the Dutch Embassy for technical assistance to the Association, for which we are greatly thankful.  

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