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    Focus Group “Transparency of Media Ownership”, 24.04.2018

    THE PRESS COUNCIL IN BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA

    Focus Group “Transparency of Media Ownership”

    Mostar, April 24, 2018


    The Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina realized the discussion titled Transparency of Media Ownership”, as part of the project “Media and Public Credibility”, on April 24, 2018 in Mostar.

    The discussion was attended by editors, journalists, representatives of institutions in the Herzegovina-Neretva Canton and the academic community, to try to identify together the problems that exist due to the non-existence of the law on transparency of media ownership, media financing and advertising in BiH, as well as to provide their answers to the questions that could contribute to eventual solutions of this problem.

    During the introductory remarks, Ms. Ljiljana Zurovac, Executive Director of the Press Council in BiH presented the project “Media and Public Credibility” to the attendants, which the Press Council is implementing together with the BH Journalists Association, Mediacentar Sarajevo and the JaBiHuEU organization: “This Consortium has been implementing the project  “Media and Public Credibility” for a year now, preparing the field for passing the Law on Transparency of Media Ownership and the Law on Advertising in BiH. These laws are needed in our media legislature. The lack of these laws leaves much space for manipulation, being that there are no regulations when registering online media. We are witness to an ever occurring presence of online media without cite notice or any information about who stands behind such portals and who writes for that media. Such field brings much speculation, political propaganda, fake news and hate speech. Thus, we are seeing all the content that endangers professionalism in online media and pretends to be a media that can be trusted. Unfortunately, the readers are not too picky about where their information comes from; the people have no critical opinion about where they take the information from”.

    Why is transparency of media ownership important?

    The introductory speakers at the focus group were Prof. Ilija Musa PhD, from the University of Mostar, Journalism Department, and Mr. Faruk Kajtaz, editor of the portal starmo.ba.

     “I think that the existence of a cite notice on a portal is very important. Transparency of media ownership is a burning issue in online media and requires quick reaction. I believe that we should not intervene with legislative solutions, because when you combine the media, the laws and irresponsible politicians, you end up with something ugly. There should be a serious register of online media kept by the Press Council in BiH. Its name would be “The Register of Credible Online Media”, and it would be divided into several categories depending on the type of portal and the type of expression it belongs to. During determination of credibility, there should be clear criteria: existence of a cite notice, existence of a newsroom, etc. I am sure that such a thing would bring results, because if a portal is on such a list, this would mean that it satisfied the criteria and that it can be trusted, and even sued if the people deem necessary. I also believe that we need to reactivate talks about monopolies, because all societies face this problem, there is a law that regards the prohibition of monopolies, which exists in various fields and so in the media as well. Further, I believe that we should bring certain things to an end with regards to advertising and the marketing industry, more light should be shed in this dark space, and more regulation. The laws we pass should be in accordance with international standards, efficient and surgically precise,” pointed Mr. Kajtaz.

    Prof. Ilija Musa PhD, from the University of Mostar said: “The fact that transparency of media ownership carries with itself the responsibility of media owners towards publically presented content is important. When we have transparent ownership, we know who gives the money, for what, to which groups and who is responsible for the money received. Registration of media is necessary, especially online media, and this could be carried by the Press Council, but an even better solution would be to do it through the government institutions and that through this registration a media would also be registered with the Press Council. The rest who write and are not registered, do not have to be registered as media, but then they would also not receive the funds that are given to media.”

    The Focus Group was realized within the project “Media and Public Credibility”, implemented by a four-organization Consortium, with financial support of the EU Delegation in BiH: the BH Journalists Association, Mediacentar Sarajevo, the JaBiHuEU organization and the Press Council in BiH. The project “Media and Public Credibility” is aimed towards the preparation of the legal framework for the regulation of transparency of media ownership, media financing and advertising in BiH. These areas are of special importance for the freedom of expression, protection of journalists and preventing pressures against the media and journalists.

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