The Association of Journalists of Macedonia (AJM), the Independent Trade Union of Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM) and the Council of Media Ethics in Macedonia (CEMM) believe the Government should refrain from hasty and insufficiently thought-out solutions in the media sphere, especially in the pre-election period.
The economic crisis caused by the coronavirus affects the financial power of the media in general and that is why the government needs to exhaust all other opportunities for support of the media before considering any direct financial assistance.
In this regard, we propose that the Government additionally exempt the televisions and radios from numerous obligations to the state, primarily to AAAMS and to the Agency for Electronic Communications in order to help their work in times of crisis. In addition, an analysis should be made on new linear tax relief for traditional and online media. This way the government will demonstrate that it tries to create favorable conditions for the media to function in times of crisis, and at the same time will not show selectivity in their support.
On the other hand, if the crisis in the media content, which exists even before the coronavirus still does not show signs of recovery, we believe that in the future, the government should consider creating temporary support for innovative and creative media projects, for all media, which would improve the quality of the program, as well as the economic situation of journalists.
In order to define criteria and inclusiveness in the process of considering the model that should meet the standards of the EU members, it will be necessary for this process to go through a wide public debate with the involvement of all relevant stakeholders. Immediately after the elections, the Parliament should adopt a legal solution with a broader consensus on this extremely important topic.
An important aspect of this type of financial support is that all interested media will be able to apply. We urge that these finances must not disrupt the media market or create conditions for new non-market impacts. Therefore, their scope should be adequate.
Furthermore, there should be guarantees that the funds would be used to improve the socio-economic position of journalists and media workers and to create quality media content which is of public interest.
AJM, SSNM and CMEM and other partner journalistic and media organizations in the coming period will ask assistance from some of our strategic partners such as the International Federation of Journalists, the European Federation of Journalists, the EU Delegation in Skopje, the US Embassy to North Macedonia and the OSCE Mission to Skopje to share the positive comparative experiences, in order to serve as a direction in the wider public debate, after the elections, for finding the best solutions.