The Republic Broadcasting Agency (RBA) is the main broadcasting regulatory authority. It was created by the Law on Broadcasting in which Article 6 defines it as “an autonomous i.e. independent organization exercising public competencies pursuant to this Law and regulations passed on the basis of this Law to secure conditions for the efficient implementation and improvement of the set broadcasting policy in the Republic of Serbia in a manner befitting a democratic society”.
The Agency monitors the implementation of the law; it also issues broadcasting licenses and monitors the work of broadcasters in the country; it receives and examines complaints and emanates sanctions for violations of the law or of the licenses’ conditions. Furthermore, the RBA can pass by-laws to implement the Broadcasting law in practice. The Agency is also responsible for monitoring ownership concentration as defined by the Law on broadcasting (Chapter VI).
The Republic Agency for Electronic Communications (RATEL) was created by the 2010 Law on Electronic Communications. Article 7 of the Law defines the agency as an autonomous organization with the status of a legal entity which is in charge of regulations for the communication and the ICT market. Within the Agency there is a managing board composed of five members in charge for a five-year term.
Members are currently selected with a two-step process: at least 180 days before the renewal of the staff, a public competition starts for the election of the new members. The government draws a list of applicants and submits it to Parliament which must vote to select among them. The Agency has its own statute (pdf here) where its main characteristics, its functioning and its competencies are defined.
The Commissioner for Information of Public importance and Personal Data Protection is an autonomous independent body created by the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance. It monitors the implementation of the law and function as an appeal body for citizen requesting information to public authorities in the country. The Commissioner’s decisions are binding and the Commissioner can also ask the government to enforce them.
The more recent Law on Personal Data, adopted in October 2008, assigned new responsibilities to the Commissioner in the area of private data protection and gave the Commissioner its actual title.
The Press Council of Serbia started its activities in 2011. As stated on its website, the Press Council is an “independent self-regulatory body that gathers publishers, owners of the print media and professional journalists”. The main task of this body is to monitor the observance of the Code of Journalists of Serbia and to mediate between aggrieved individuals, institutions and editorial staff (Article 11 of the Council’s statute). The Press Council has a specific Complaints Commission charged with adopting decisions related to complaints of media users. The Commission is composed of four representatives of the media industry (three from the Media Association and one from the local press); two representatives of the Independent Journalist Association of Serbia and the Journalist Association of Serbia; and three representatives from civil society. The model of the Serbian press council has been inspired by Norway’s press council. This self-regulatory body seeks to create a better relation between media and the public, thereby fostering a better environment for freedom of expression.
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