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09.09.2005.

 AMENDMENTS TO THE BROADCASTING LAW ADOPTED

BELGRADE, August 30, 2005 (Beta) - Serbian Parliament has passed today
amendments to the Broadcasting Law which stipulate extension of the deadline
for transformation of the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) into a public
service, as well as for privatization of broadcast media belonging to
institutions of local self-government.

Out of all representatives, 128 voted for the proposal, with only one vote
against.

Oppositional Serbian Radical Party and Democratic Party were against changes
to the law.

These amendments specify that the deadline for the privatization of RTS and
its transformation into a republic and provincial public service, which has
expired on January 1, 2003, is to be prolonged until March 30, 2006.

The bill states that, pending the beginning of activity of the Broadcasting
Institution of Serbia and Broadcasting Institution of Vojvodina, the public
company RTS will collect a radio television subscription which is to be paid
together with electricity bills as of October 1.

The Government of Serbia will establish a special transitional fund with
financial resources necessary for transformation of the state television
until the end of the deadline for transformation of RTS into a public
service.

Deadline for privatization of broadcast media belonging to institutions of
local government has also been extended until December 31, 2007. The
original deadline expired in July this year.

Members of the Broadcasting Agency's Council nominated by the parliamentary
board will have a six years' term in office. Members nominated by the
Parliament of Vojvodina, universities and churches will have a term of five
years in office, while representatives of non-governmental organizations and
professional associations will have a term of four years.

Amendments to the law have annulled the right to veto previously exercised
by the Vojvodina's member of the republic Broadcasting Agency's Council
regarding all decisions related to the province.

Fines for radio piracy and related offenses have been increased to between
300.000 and one million dinars from the previous level of 50.000 to 200.000
dinars. Fines for responsible persons within a legal entity which commit the
offense will be 20.000 to 50.000 dinars, up from the previous level of 2.500
to 10.000 dinars.

The Broadcasting Law has been adopted in July 2002.

EPS NOT VERY ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT TYING SUBSCRIPTION WITH ELECTRICITY BILLS

BELGRADE, August 30, 2005 (Beta) - Electric Power Industry of Serbia (EPS)
is not very enthusiastic about the idea of using electricity bills to
collect TV subscription for RTS after October 1, but it will abide by the
government's decision, says the company.

EPS told Beta that more specific details will be known after a meeting
between representatives of EPS and RTS which is to be held in few days to
discuss the collection of subscription.

Sources from EPS explained that they were not very enthusiastic about the
new method of collection of TV subscription. They believe that it is not a
good solution for the Electric Power Industry of Serbia because it will
lower the percentage of citizens paying their electricity bills, which has
been experienced in earlier attempt to tie together electricity and TV
subscription.

According to the latest information from EPS, consumers owe EPS more than 40
billion dinars (about 500 million euros) in unpaid electricity bills.

Because of consumers' debt, but also because of the current price per kWh
which amounts to 3,4 eurocents, EPS warns that the company suffers a loss
and is unable to cover its expenses and invest in ecological protection.

"Average annual price per kWh should be around 4,6 eurocents to enable us to
be profitable again and cover our expenses, while the proper ecological
protection would require the annual price to reach a level of 6 eurocents",
claims EPS.

Representatives of EPS added that collection of TV subscription together
with electricity bills would mean additional work and man-hours for EPS,
which is contrary to demands that public companies should be restructured
and slimmed down.

Minister of Culture Dragan Kojadinovic announced yesterday that citizens of
Serbia will have to pay around 300 dinars for TV subscription together with
their electricity as of October 1, pointing out that it will not jeopardize
EPS' business.

Kojadinovic explained that EPS will have a separate bank transfer account to
be used for collection of TV subscription, which will be settled by
agreement between two public companies.

"Payment of TV subscription together with electricity bills is the least bad
solution, because all citizens have electricity, but not everyone pays for
communal services or a phone line, said the Minister of Culture.

"RTS LAW" PASSED

BELGRADE, August 30, 2005 (B92) - Parliament adopted proposed amendments to
the Broadcasting Law.

Democratic Party and Serbian Radical Party voted against the government's
proposal, while 128 representatives voted for the proposal. Amendments to
the Broadcasting Law provide for introduction of a TV subscription. In other
words, if amendments to the law are adopted, citizens of Serbia will have to
pay a subscription for RTS together with their electricity bills. According
to the Minister of Culture Dragan Kojadinovic, the subscription will amount
to 300 dinars.

On the other side, final amount of TV subscription has not been established
yet. Although the Electric Power Industry of Serbia and Electrical
Distribution voiced their protests because tying subscription and
electricity bills might put EPS' revenues at danger, Kojadinovic does not
expect problems, saying that RTS will have a separate transfer bank account.
He believes that this method of payment is most convenient because all
citizens have electricity, while not everyone pays for communal services or
telephone.

Aside from subscription, amendments to the Broadcasting Law specified an
extension of the deadline for transformation of national radio television,
as well as local broadcasters.

Roles of certain members of the republic Broadcasting Council are also
changed. According to the proposal, a right to veto which belonged to
Vojvodina's representative in the Council is to be withdrawn.

Tijanic: If you mess with "Dnevnik", you are involved in politics

Director of RTS Aleksandar Tijanic accused B92, BK and Pink of involvement
in politics because their news programmes overlap with national TV's
"Dnevnik".

"Commercial stations have a right to compete with RTS, but if you make news
programme at 19:30, that's politics", said Tijanic.

"They know that they can't beat RTS. Their aim is to decrease our ratings
for a point or two. This is a joint project by TV BK, B92 and Pink. They
have prolonged their news shows for an hour trying to overcome RTS, which
they didn't dare to do during Milosevic's or Djindjic's rule. I believe
there is someone who is planning the future of Serbia and doesn't want RTS
to be most influential. But even in a situation like this "Dnevnik" has
twice the ratings of all other stations combined", said Tijanic in an
interview with Vecernje novosti.

A LAWSUIT FILED BECAUSE OF SUBSCRIPTION

NOVI SAD, August 31, 2005 (Vecernje Novosti) - President of the Consumers'
Protection of Vojvodina, Goran Papovic, announced today that a lawsuit will
be filed before the Supreme Court of Serbia against the republic government
because of the information that citizens will have to pay 300 dinars for a
TV subscription together with their electricity bills as of October 1,
reports Tanjug.

He said that "no one can force consumers to pay a specified amount for TV
subscription and no one can force electric distribution company to cut them
off in the case of non-payment".

WWW.B92 - THE MOST VISITED SITE IN SCG

BELGRADE, August 31, 2005 (B92) - Most visited site in Serbia and Montenegro
is B92, with "Krstarica"on the second place, announced search engine
Pogodak. It is interesting to note that third place belongs to Belgrade's
official presentation.

Sites of various media companies also rank high: 'Blic' is on the third
place, 'Politika' on eighth, 'Danas' on ninth, 'Glas javnosti' on
thirteenth, 'RTS' on sixteenth and 'Novosti' on nineteenth. Internet
presentations of the Serbian Orthodox Church and National Library have a
very good ranking, while there has been great interest in Serbian
government's web site, especially in its section dedicated to integration
with EU.

OSCE DISSATISFIED

BELGRADE, September 1, 2005 (Beta) - OSCE Mission in SCG announced its
dissatisfaction with adopted amendments to the Broadcasting Law.

"Serbian Parliament has missed an opportunity last February to establish the
duration of the Council member's terms, which is a mistake that could have
been rectified quickly and within the existing legal framework", states the
OSCE's announcement.

OSCE regrets the fact that this problem was not resolved through
consultations with interested parties, which can lead to additional problems
during implementation of the amended law.

Maurizio Massari, Head of the OSCE's Mission to Serbia and Montenegro,
pointed out that it was crucial to reaffirm the principle of equality of all
member of the Broadcasting Council. He said that that there must not be any
discrimination within the Council, nor influence from external factors.

TRANSITIONAL FUND FOR RTS STILL A GREAT UNKNOWN

BELGRADE, September 1, 2005 (Danas) - Debate about the draft amendments to
the Broadcasting Law in the Serbian Parliament has enabled Government of the
Republic of Serbia to find a solution to facilitate continuing operation of
the national television.

As it has been announced in the Parliament, the Government of Serbia has
decided to establish a transitional fund to secure funding of Radio
Television of Serbia in the following period which is planned to end after
six months. RTS must become a public service after this deadline.

Member of the Broadcasting council, Vladimir Cvetkovic, said for Danas that
the idea to establish transitional fund originated from RTS, while the
proposal has been further supported by the President of the Parliament
Predrag Markovic. President of the parliamentary Board for Culture and
Information, Aleksandar Lazarevic, confirmed this information for Danas. He
said that the proposal came from several proponents and not just RTS.

»It is true that during debates in the parliamentary Board for Culture and
information  Aleksandar Tijanic, director of RTS, has once proposed a
transitional fund to facilitate RTS's transformation into a public service.
Every model for survival of RTS has been examined«, said Lazarevic.

Officials don't have any precise information on the way the funds will be
used.

Aleksandar Lazarevic points out that the fund which is to be secured by the
Government, whether from budgetary reserves or donations, will certainly be
used in a way that will ensure transformation of RTS into a public service.
Although the subscription will be collected as of October, it is estimated
that at least three months will pass before money is actually delivered to
the bank account and revenues stabilized. Hence the need for fund, explained
Aleksandar Lazarevic.

Officials from the Government of Serbia and RTS's managers still don't know
what a public service actually means, how its programme is produced, or the
number and profiles of employees who will work in such a public system.

President of the RTS's trade union Nezavisnost, Miodrag Zupanc, said for
Danas that confusion in national television has been created on purpose.
First there has been restitution which is intended for public companies in
liquidation or being privatized, like JAT or ZTP. RTS has been put into same
category, and it was done intentionally. Restitution implies a social
programme, i.e. downsizing and dismissals, and if the company is large and
complex like RTS, it is usually broken into "sister companies", for example
PGP RTS, Channel Three, Radio 101 - explains Miodrag Zupanc.

First and most important task that lies ahead of RTS is its transformation
into a public service, which is stipulated by the Broadcasting Law. But
national television's biggest problem is that no one knows what public
service actually is, how such programme is produced, exact number and
profile of staff members in news, culture, education, sports and other
departments.

The worst problem is the fact that the company is being disintegrated
without rebuilding or privatization. Using this method the government is
spreading confusion in the national television. The biggest chance for RTS
is creation of public service with new and clear rules of conducting
business and producing programme, said Zupanc. For the time being, 1.100
employees will have to leave RTS. If sister companies had been separated,
national TV would have employed 600 people less than before.

Representatives of the trade union discussed future of RTS with the
President of the Broadcasting Council, Nenad Cekic, and the Minister of
Culture, Dragan Kojadinovic. They were shocked when they realized that no
one knows what a public service truly is. Responsibility is always shifted
to someone else, says the president of the trade union of RTS Nezavisnost.

Broadcasting Council should prepare project or proposal of the
transformation of RTS into a public service, believes Zupanc. The proposal
should then be publicly discussed by representatives of NUNS and UNS,
associations of artists and actors, NGOs and experts from various fields.

BATIC: RTS SUBSCRIPTION IS THE ELECTRIC METER TAX

BELGRADE, September 1, 2005 (Kurir) - President of the Democratic Christian
Party of Serbia, Vladan Batic, announced yesterday that his party will
submit a claim for revision of constitutionality of the Broadcasting Law's
articles which stipulate payment of subscription for the Radio Television of
Serbia.

In this way, said Batic, citizens are not supposed to pay a TV subscription,
but an "electric meter tax". He said that democratically inclined viewers
will not watch RTS programme.

He pointed out that RTS had paid off all debts while Aleksandar Crkvenjakov
was in charge, even though it had 2.000 employees more than today, and added
that "astronomical journalistic fees were then impossible".

WORDS AND PICTURES FOR THE WORLD

BELGRADE, September 2, 2005 (Danas) - A regular meeting point for Belgrade
and foreign journalists, popular Media Center Belgrade has reopened it doors
at the new location in the Sava Center.

Executive director of the Media Center, Vladan Radosavljevic, said yesterday
at the official opening that a "third" Media Center has offered its services
to journalists and the media. At least two other Media Centers existed -
first in 25 Knez Mihajlova street, and second at the Republic Square - which
is why this one in Sava Center was called the third Media Center, explained
Radovanovic and promised that the center will continue to work
professionally in all media related areas.

New, bigger premises will allow Media Center to develop commercial
activities. Owing to the support from the Assembly of the City of Belgrade
and Sava Center, it has been able to move into new business premises under
very favorable conditions. The new Media Center now has a total area of
1.600 square meters with three halls, the biggest one of them having around
350 square meters sufficient for 400 guests. This space, said Radovanovic,
will be used for large gatherings and promotions, while the other, smaller,
room will be used for everyday press conferences. The smallest room is ideal
for small events and various lessons and courses.

The halls are fully equipped with modern systems for simultaneous
translation, presentations and video conferences which will make possible
upstream of pictures and sounds from Belgrade to Vienna, for example, or any
other part of the world. Although the media probably won't like a new remote
location outside the city center, Radosavljevic points out that some media
began moving to New Belgrade. As an aside, no one will have to worry about
finding a parking place any more.

Media Center, together with objects like the business center Usce, Belgrade
Arena or the Jugopetrol building, will become a new business center in
Belgrade. Media Center is shifting its orientation towards new commercial
activities, working with companies, promotions and presentations. Of course,
we will not withdraw from our earlier activities - monitoring and
professionalization of the media, as well as all other services we've been
offering to the media, explained Vladan Radosavljevic for Danas.

Relocation of the Media Center has been completed successfully, he pointed
out, with excellent cooperation and help from the Belgrade Assembly and Sava
Center, who are at the moment working hard to promote the new center.

Having in mind that most of the major events, conferences, seminars and
round tables were held in the Sava Center, a journalist from Danas asked if
the Media Center and Sava Center will be rivals from now on. Vladan
Radosavljevic pointed out that it has been agreed that Media Center would
serve as Sava Center's media service.

Although the new journalistic center began working only yesterday, already
two press conferences are to be held today. Announcements will be delivered
to more than a thousand addresses, notifying clients about the services
available at the new premises of the Media Center.

"CHAOS IN SERBIAN MEDIA SCENE"

BELGRADE, September 02, 2005 (FoNet) - "Srpski nacional" daily is the
newspaper that most flagrantly violates all the rules of ethics in
journalism, says Dragan Janjic.

The professional norms of journalism in Serbia are not adhered to, the trend
of media tabloidisation continues, and such model is being dictated by the
Serbian political elite. This is the conclusion from the August report of
the Media Center Press Council.

Dragan Janjic, Special Rapporteur of the Council said that during August the
Council dealt with harsh verbal attacks made by the Minister for Capital
Investments Velimir Ilic on B92 reporter and the fact that much of the media
and politicians followed Ilic's example, as well as the fact that Ilic
applied pressure on the Serbian judiciary system.

"The attack was treated in the press more like a scandal that would help
boost the sales of the newspaper, rather than as a case that both society
and the journalists should treat with more seriousness", said Janjic.

He added that the case was closed by the statement that ".the Minister is,
well, just the way he is".

Janjic mentioned "Srpski nacional" daily newspaper as an example of the
newspaper which flagrantly and in the most open manner violated all the
rules of ethics in journalism.

"Daily "Nacional" is the living proof that disorder and anarchy rule the
Serbian media scene, where there are no limits to what can be published",
said Janjic.

EPS WILL NOT TOW RTS

BELGRADE, September 04, 2005 (Glas javnosti) - By the beginning of next week
the dilemma of TV subscription should be solved and decided whether it would
be charged through joint account for both electricity and subscription or in
some other way.

Serbian Electric Power Industry (EPS) has so far been categorically against
the joint account. In the past, RTS received a lot of money from
subscription because it was paid through a joint account. Regardless of how
much the citizens paid separately for electricity or subscription, EPS
regularly paid a share of it to RTS. EPS suffered financial damage because
this reduced its profit.

The sources from EPS claim that by using a joint account the electricity
payments would be reduced by 7 percent. They underline that therefore two
separate bills should be made. A great deal of citizens is constantly behind
with electricity bills, owing thousands of dinars and paying half or around
half of their debt each month. It is very hard to determine how much of this
payment through a joint account has the consumer intended for electricity
and how much for RTS.

There are many reasons for »blending« these two bills together, but the main
reason is that this is the easiest way to collect subscription. If there
were two separate accounts, the citizens could decide whether they would
want to pay subscription altogether, and RTS would have the obligation to
solve the problem of its debtors.

Aleksandar Vasic, Deputy President of the Broadcasting Agency Council
confirms that with two separate accounts the percentage of paid subscription
fees would be much lower.

"The way I see the amendments to the Broadcasting Law, EPS will collect
payment and this is supposed to be done through a joint account. If we did
have two different accounts, bearing in mind a loose legal culture in our
country, the citizens would not pay subscription, even though this is the
case in all organised countries, even in our neighbourhood" - stresses Vasic
and adds that the modalities of payment will be decided upon when the Law
comes into effect.

It is unclear, however, how RTS would force its citizens to pay subscription
if the electricity bills were printed on separate papers. The Broadcasting
Law does not include any articles on evading subscription, but the penalties
can be found in regulations of Obligation Law.

The citizens have the option of cancelling their radio or TV transmitter,
but for now it has not been specified how this could be done. Vasic says
that it is expected that in case of not reporting their transmitters, the
citizens would have to pay the penalty of 12 monthly subscriptions.

Nevertheless, the control mechanisms have not been determined yet.
Subscription would be around 300 dinars, which equals the amount of a
monthly electricity bill of around a third of consumers in Serbia.

The citizens will most probably »respond« by cancelling their transmitters,
and new Swedish-made detectors are expected to show up in the streets again,
previously used for detecting the unregistered transmitters.

FINANCIAL INJECTION OF 80 MILLION EUROS NECESSARY FOR RTS

BELGRADE, September 02, 2005 (Danas) - Electricity bills will be increased
for estimated 300 dinars in October and many households will face a harsh
reality that Radio Television of Serbia has to receive money directly from
citizens and not from budget which has been done previously.

However, all former Yugoslav republics went through this harsh reality. RTS
has to improve its programme. It has to be a permanent public discussion
board which will have a critical view towards the government, always show
two sides of the story and enable citizens' voice to be heard - says for
Danas one of the creators of the Broadcasting Law, Rade Veljanovski.

He thinks that RTS' programme is making progress, but is still far from the
standards it is supposed to implement to become a public service. Meanwhile,
he warns that this television will not be able to improve further without a
TV subscription.

Veljanovski supports the establishment of a transitional fund, because the
government is obliged to assist in national TV's transformation, "of course,
without involvement in employment of staff or editorial policy".

There are many arguments in favor of the TV subscription. Analysts believe
that it is a very important step in former communist countries because of
the tradition of political manipulation using state's broadcasting monopoly.
The subscription should make radio television independent from the political
agenda of those who decide on the budgetary distribution, with funding more
predictable, ensuring easier planning and investment.

Numbers prove that the national TV is fighting for breath. After the last
rebalance of the budget, 20 million euros are earmarked for RTS annually.
Its directors repeatedly stress that bankruptcy is very near because RTS has
been barely able to work even when it received 54,8 million euros in 2003.

Rade Veljanovski estimates that a Serbian public service with two "media
houses" - in Belgrade and Novi Sad - will need at least 80 million euros. If
we compare RTS' budget with conditions in the region, the situation looks
even more dramatic. Croatian Radio Television collects 110 million just from
subscription, with a total of 170 million. In small neighbouring Slovenia,
public service has a budget of 120 million.

The two countries have a pretty good experience with subscription. In
Croatia, subscription collectors come to collect money. Percentage of
successful collection is 97 percent. The subscription is calculated as 1.5
percent of the average net monthly salary in the Republic of Croatia. HRT is
allowed to broadcast nine minutes of commercials in one hour of programme.

Slovenia has implemented the same solution as ours - subscription is
collected with electricity bills. BiH and Macedonia had a bit worse
experience. Since last year, TV subscription is collected through phone
bills and it amounts to six convertible marks. It is distributed in the
following way: 58 percent goes to entity RTVs and 42 percent to BiH's public
service. Only lately, after three years, a percentage of successful payments
began growing. RTV FBiH managed to collect only 40 percent at the beginning
of subscription, while RTRS was able to collect only 22 percent. Macedonia
distributes collected funds in such a way that MRTV receives 67.5 percent,
while five percent goes to local broadcasters. Commercials may occupy only
seven percent of one hour's programme.

Most of the countries of the world use several financial sources. Most often
cited example is British BBC which is fully funded by subscription.

In the Czech Republic and Slovakia two thirds of funds come from
subscription, while Austrian ORF receives around half of its total budget
from subscription.

Canadian CBC and Australian ABC are opposite examples because they are
funded exclusively from taxes. Albanian TV receives 65 percent of its
revenues from the government. Only Spanish TVE is financed completely by
commercials, as the exception from the rule.
Commercials are not allowed as a source of income in the United Kingdom,
Australia and Sweden.

Rade Veljanovski can't estimate how much time will be necessary to stabilize
subscription for RTS. He expects that one decade of experience with
collection of subscription would probably contribute to the successful
implementation of this kind of funding.


Povratak

AKTUALNO