Media of the Republic of Macedonia

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The media of the Republic of Macedonia refers to mass media outlets based in the Republic of Macedonia. Television, magazines, and newspapers are all operated by both state-owned and for-profit corporations which depend on advertising, subscription, and other sales-related revenues. The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia guarantees freedom of the press and of expression, yet they are not upheld impartially by the authorities.[1] As a country in transition, the Republic of Macedonia's media system is under transformation.

Legislative framework[edit]

The Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia guarantees the freedom of expression, freedom of speech, the right to access to information and the establishment of institutions for public information. It also guarantees the freedom of reception and transmission of information, and bans censorship. Finally, the Constitution guarantees to national minorities the right to cultural expression and information in their own languages.[2]:14

The Law on Broadcasting Activity foresees restrictions to the broadcast of contents aimed at the violent overthrow of the constitutional order, military aggression, or incitement of national, racial, gender or religious hatred and intolerance, as well as programs liable to damage the physical, mental or development of children and youth. [2]:15

Libel and defamation are decriminalised since 2012's Law on Civil Liability for Defamation and Insult, though fines remain extremely high. [2]:15

A new law on the media is being drafted, to harmonise it with the EU AVMS directive. Yet, early drafts raised concerns in terms of possible restrictions to media freedoms.[3]

The law on access to information, adopted in 2006, is harmonised with international and EU standards. The Commission for Free Access to Public Information is still not independent as it should and lacks capacities. The law remains not fully implemented,[2]:15 and access to public information is uneven and selectively enforced.[1]

Radio and TV broadcasting during electoral campaign is regulated by the Election Code. Press coverage of election time is only self-regulated;[2]:15 an independent study in 2013 found large imbalances and lack of professional standards, so that "some media news was used to directly manipulate the opinion of the electorate".[4]

The independent regulatory authority is the Broadcasting Council, whose tasks and powers are aligned with Council of Europe recommendations, but which remains strongly influenced by the political parties, the government, and the media industry. Although members of the Council are selected by "authorised nominators" (the Inter-University Conference, the Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association of Journalists, and the Parliamentary Committee on Elections and Nominations), the majority of appointees are deemed close to the ruling party, thus bringing partisanship in the regulatory body.[2]:15

Online content is not specifically regulated, besides the general restrictions against hate speech, and intermediaries (ISP) are not liable for distributed contents. [2]:15

Status and self-regulation of journalists[edit]

Journalists in Macedonia face "low salaries, poor job security and working conditions, and editorial pressure from owners".[1]

Most journalists in the Republic of Macedonia have rather low socio-economic status, and their labour and social rights are limited; many work without contracts or signing blank resignation in advance. The average wage in the sector is of 250€ per month (national average: 350€/m). [2]:18

There is yet no self-regulatory body for journalists in the country. A Council of Ethics in Media was established in 2010 as tripartite body of journalists, editors, and media owners. The Independent Union of Journalists is a weak body, lacking resources and a strong membership base. Unionisation is often deemed unacceptable by media owners, leading journalists to pursue secret membership. In 2011 more than 20 union members, including its President, were fired.[5] Pressure on journalists are various and widespread, from marginalisation of critical journalists to reallocation across the media.[2]:18

The Code of Ethics of the Journalists of Macedonia is set as the professional guideline; yet, violations of basic standards are widespread, e.g. in the use of judgemental labels, vague references, biased sources, and evaluatory framing. Journalism is still mainly seen as aimed at providing public exposure for political elites, particularly government members. Investigative and analytic journalism is almost absent.[2]:18

Journalists are protected from being compelled to testify about confidential information or sources by both the Constitution (art. 16) and the 2005 Broadcasting Law.[2]:19

Bloggers and citizen journalists are not recognised or protected by Macedonian legislation.[1]

Media outlets[edit]

Commercial media are mainly funded through advertising revenues, coupled with state budget funds for "public campaigns". The government has grown to among the five top advertisers in the country,[6] affecting market competition and editorial independence.[2]:16 Moreover, the ruling party benefits from big discounts on airtime prices from friendly media during electoral periods. The large use of advertisement funding by the ruling party is deemed to increase Macedonian media's financial dependence and foster pro-governmental alignment.[1] Public campaigns are aired for free on MRTV.

Pro-governmental media are deemed to hold a dominant position in the market. Telma TV, Sloboden Pecat, 24 Vesti and Fokus are deemed as having a balanced or critical coverage.[1]

The market features a high number of media, with a shrinking advertising revenue, and a fragmentation due to technological development and digitalisation. Most advertising revenue goes to the television industry, particularly the national terrestrial channels.[2]:16 Media ownership is often opaque due to the use of proxies. Foreign investments in the Macedonian media are limited to Serbian companies - one of which is a monopolist in newspapers' printing and distribution, with ties to high-level security officials.[1]

News agencies[edit]

The public news agency is the Macedonian Information Agency (MIA), established in 1992 and working in Macedonian, English, and Albanian languages. Private news agencies include the Macedonian Information Centre (MIC, est. 1992), Makfax (1993), and online-based Net Press (2007).

Print media[edit]

Nova Makedonija

The oldest newspaper in the country is Nova Makedonija, founded in 1944. Its first edition, on 29 October 1944, constitutes the first document written after the codification of Standard Macedonian. The unsuccessful privatisation of Nova Makedonija in 1994-96 led to the disappearance of all its print outlets from the market, and the later entry of WAZ as the main foreign investor, with a resulting strong concentration in the print media sector (90% in 2003). WAZ withdrew in 2012, selling its publications to local investors. [2]:17

Other well known daily newspaper are Utrinski Vesnik (est. 1999), Dnevnik (1996),Večer (1963), Vest, Makedonski Sport and Koha (in Albanian). Weeklies include Republika, financial Kapital, Fokus, women's Tea Moderna and Makedonsko Sonce (est. 1994).

Hidden ownership of the print media remains a concern, and hinders media pluralism and independence, since actual owners are deemed to be affiliated to political interests. [2]:17

Publishing[edit]

Radio broadcasting[edit]

Macedonian Radio-Television building in Skopje

The public radio broadcaster Macedonian Radio Television operates over multiple stations, including three national channels, a satellite channel and a non-profit regional channel. It broadcasts 86.5 hours of programmes daily on its national and satellite channels. The First channel, Radio Skopje, broadcasts a continuous 24-hour programme and mainly functions as a talk radio. The Second channel, Radio 2, broadcasts a continuous 24-hour programme, focused on popular music and entertainment. The Third channel broadcasts programmes in all the languages of the national minorities in the Republic of Macedonia, including Albanian (since 1948); Turkish (since 1945) 5 hours; Vlach (since 1991); Romany (since 1991); Serbian (since 2003) and Bosnian (since 2003) all 30 minutes each per day. The satellite channel, Radio Macedonia, commenced in July 2003, and broadcasts a 24-hour continual programme, which is a selection of programmes from Macedonian Radio and its original programme "Radio Macedonia" with a duration of 6 hours and 30 minutes. Kanal 103 provides FM broadcasting only for the region of Skopje with the mission of promoting avantgarde music and culture. Macedonian Radio also broadcasts its programme over the Internet.

Three privately owned radio stations broadcast nationally in the Republic of Macedonia. They are Antenna 5 FM (founded in 1994 as a contemporary hits radio station and soon part of the MTV Radio Network), Kanal 77 (based in Štip), and Metropolis radio. There are about 70 local commercial radio stations (2012), including Radio Bravo, City FM 97.9 and Alfa Radio.[7] There used to be counted up to 410,000 Radio receivers in use in 2008.[citation needed]

Television broadcasting[edit]

Television was first introduced in 1964 in Yugoslav Macedonia; it remains the most popular news medium. The public broadcaster is the Macedonian Radio-Television (MRTV), founded in 1993. TEKO TV (1989) from Štip is the first private television channel in the country. Other popular private channels are: Sitel, Kanal 5, Telma, Alfa TV, and Alsat-M.Most private media are tied to political or business interests and state media tend to support the government. Public broadcast networks face stiff competition from commercial stations, which dominate the ratings. A European Union sponsored report says that with scores of TV and radio networks, the market is overcrowded and many local broadcasters are struggling to survive financially.[8]

The process of transformation of MRTV in a public service broadcaster is not yet completed; it entailed the 1997 Law on Broadcasting Activities and the 2005 Broadcast Law. Editorial independence of MRTV is guaranteed by law but de facto lacking due to lack of independent funding and lack of independence of MRTV managerial bodies. MRTV executive directors in the last ten years remained close to the party in power. The network is funded by a license fee as well as by public budget contributions and advertising revenues (limited to 10% of airtime). Budgetary needs, and the practice of ad hoc state budgetary funding, has created a "culture of dependence" in MRTV.[2]:16

MRTV is supervised by the MRTV Council, whose members are appointed by the Parliament upon proposal by "authorised nominators" from civil society. The Council then elects the members of MRTV Management Board. Although formally only accountable to the legislature through its annual report and budget plan, MRTV remains informally accountable to the executive, undermining institutional autonomy. [9] MRTV also risks neglecting cultural pluralism obligations, in terms of programmes for minorities, as well as lacking impartiality and distance from government/majority politicians.[2]:16

DVB-T was introduced in Republic of Macedonia in November, 2009 as a Pay TV platform known as BoomTV by ONE. The platform includes the Republic of Macedonia channels with national frequency and the most popular world channels. Boom TV is using 3 multiplexes (MUX 1, MUX 2 and MUX 3). The DVB-T switch off in Macedonia has completed on 1 June 2013. MRD (Republic of Macedonia Broadcasting Council) operates and maintains the DVB-T network in the Republic of Macedonia and the public Macedonian Radio-Television using MUX 4 and MUX 5 while ONE operates the private national and local TV stations in Macedonia using MUX 6 and MUX 7.

Cable television is highly developed, with cable television penetration in Skopje at 67% of all households. There are 49 cable TV providers with the two majors Blizoo and Telekabel holding 80% of the market. The two majors offer cable television in both analogue and digital, and they have also introduced triple play at the beginning of 2007. On 17 November 2008, IPTV officially started in Macedonia when the country's first IPTV service, MaxTV, was launched by Makedonski Telekom.

  • Television stations:
    • the public TV broadcaster operates 3 national channels and a satellite network; 5 privately owned TV channels broadcast nationally using terrestrial transmitters and about 15 broadcast nationally via satellite; there are roughly 75 local commercial TV stations; and a large number of cable operators offering domestic and international programming (2012);[7]
    • 136 stations (1997).
  • Television sets: 1.9 million sets in use (2008).[citation needed]

Cinema[edit]

The history of film making in the republic dates back over 110 years. The first film to be produced on the territory of the present-day the country was made in 1895 by Janaki and Milton Manaki in Bitola. Throughout the past century, the medium of film has depicted the history, culture and everyday life of the Macedonian people. Over the years many Macedonian films have been presented at film festivals around the world and several of these films have won prestigious awards. The first Macedonian feature film was Frosina, released in 1952. The first feature film in colour was Miss Stone, a movie about a Protestant missionary in Ottoman Macedonia. It was released in 1958. The highest grossing feature film in the Republic of Macedonia was Bal-Can-Can, having been seen by over 500,000 people in its first year alone.

In 1994 Milco Manchevski's film Before the Rain was nominated as Best Foreign Film. Manchevski continues to be the most prominent modern filmmaker in the country having subsequently written and directed Dust and Shadows.

Telecommunications[edit]

The combined fixed-line and mobile-cellular telephone subscribership was about 130 per 100 persons in 2012. Competition from mobile-cellular phones has led to a drop in fixed-line telephone subscriptions.[7]

Internet[edit]

Around 68% of the population had access to internet in 2015.[1] Legislation was aligned with EU standards with the February 2014 Law on Electronic Communications, to improve competition and consumers' rights.[1]

The United States Agency for International Development sponsored a project called "Macedonia Connects" which in 2006 helped to make Macedonia the first all-broadband wireless country in the world, where Internet access is available to virtually anyone with a wireless-enabled computer. Wireless access is available to about 95 percent of Macedonians, even those living in remote sheepherding mountain villages where people don't have phones. The Ministry of Education and Sciences reported that all 461 primary and secondary schools were connected to the Internet. An Internet Service Provider (On.net), created a MESH Network to provide WIFI services in the 11 largest cities/towns in the country.[19][20]

Internet censorship and surveillance[edit]

There are no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. Individuals and groups engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.[21]

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press; however, the government does not always respect these rights in practice. The law prohibits speech that incites national, religious, or ethnic hatred, and provides penalties for violations. In November 2012 the defamation, libel and slander laws were decriminalized. Editors and media owners expressed concerns that steep fines under the revised law would cause self-censorship. The law prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, home, or correspondence, and the government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.[21]

Media Organisations[edit]

Trade unions[edit]

The government has taken a biased approach to media unions. It has promoted the Macedonian Association of Journalists (MAN) while putting pressure on the traditional Journalists' Association of Macedonia (ZNM) and Trade Union of Macedonian Journalists and Media Workers (SSNM).[1]

In July 2014, an amendment to the Law on Audiovisual Services forced ZNM to give up one of its two seats in the board of the public service broadcaster to MAN. [1]

Regulatory authorities[edit]

A new government-dominated media regulator was set up by the December 2013 Law on Media and Law on Audiovisual Media Services, replacing the previous Broadcasting Council. The agency is now empowered to impose harsh fines and revoke licenses if it detects contents that harm vaguely-defined "public order" and "health or morals". Amelioratory amendments were passed in January 2014, exempting online media and minimizing obligations for print media, but the overall framework remains deemed inadequate. [1]

Censorship and media freedom[edit]

Attacks and threats against journalists[edit]

Political interferences[edit]

The dominance of the government over the media landscape through the channel of advertisement was evident in the Macedonian general election, 2014, when most private and public media expressed a pro-governmental bias.

  • In February 2014 he chief editor of Sitel TV called upon voters to support the government on ethnic nationalist grounds.[1]

Criminal laws have been reported as been used by Macedonian authorities to restrict press freedom.

  • In May 2013, Nova Makedonija journalist Tomislav Kezarovski was arrested and charged with revealing the identity of a protected witness. In October 2013 he was sentenced to 4,5 years in prison. Kezarovski had writte on Reporter 92 magazine on how the police had pushed the witness to give false testimony. The witness confirmed it in court and said it was only given protection in 2010, two years after Kezarovski's reports. Kezarovski was moved under house arrest, pending his appeal.[1]

The journalist argued for a public interest defence clause, since the police had presented a false protected witness against him. International protests had followed the sentence against him.[22]

Civil defamation lawsuits[edit]

Although decriminalised, defamation is published by large fines in Macedonia. Dozens of civil defamation cases had been issued against journalists in 2012/14, although many are settled out of court.[1]

  • In September 2014 the weekly Fokus had an adverse ruling confirmed in appeal. The media was condemned to pay 12,000 US$ and legal expenses for a 2013 article deemed defamatory against the then secret service chief Saso Mijalkov.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Freedom House, 2015 report on press freedom in the Republic of Macedonia
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Elda Brogi, Alina Dobreva, and Pier Luigi Parcu, "Freedom of Media in the Western Balkans", study for the European Parliament's Subcommittee on Human Rights, October 2014, EXPO/B/DROI/2013/16
  3. ^ European Commission, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia 2013 Progress Report. Accompanying the Document: Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council. Enlargement Strategy and Main Challenges 2013-2014
  4. ^ UNESCO (2013), How Does the Media Construct Their Political Bias? Analysis of Framing – Qualitative Aspects of Media Coverage on 2013 Local Elections Campaign. Skopje: UNESCO Chair in Media, Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, School of Journalism and Public Relations.
  5. ^ Radio Free Europe (2011), Otkaz Za Sindikalniot Lider Na Novinarite. Radio Free Europe.
  6. ^ Broadcasting Council of Macedonia (2013), Analysis of the Broadcasting Market in 2012. Skopje.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Communications: Macedonia", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 28 January 2014. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  8. ^ "Macedonia profile: Media", BBC News, 22 August 2013. Retrieved 1 February 2014.
  9. ^ Macedonian Institute for Media (2010), Analysis of the Public Broadcasting in the Republic of Macedonia in the Context of the European Media Policy. Skopje.
  10. ^ Dialing Procedures (International Prefix, National (Trunk) Prefix and National (Significant) Number) (in Accordance with ITY-T Recommendation E.164 (11/2010)), Annex to ITU Operational Bulletin No. 994-15.XII.2011, International Telecommunication Union (ITU, Geneva), 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  11. ^ a b Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012", Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
  12. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  13. ^ "Internet usage in Macedonia in 2009", GfK, November 2009. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  15. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  16. ^ Select Formats, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
  17. ^ Population, The World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Data are mostly for 1 July 2012.
  18. ^ "Broadband network is envy of the west", Geoff Naim, Financial Times, 28 March 2006. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  19. ^ "", Beth Kampschor, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 March 2006.
  20. ^ "Macedonia Connects" (PDF). Education for a Modern Society. Macedonia: U.S. Agency for International Development. April 2006. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Macedonia", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 March 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2014.
  22. ^ Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, The Protection of media freedom in Europe.Background report prepared by Mr William Horsley, special representative for media freedom of the Association of European Journalists