The Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) is continuing to manipulate facts and is maintaining its pressure on N1 TV instead of doing its job as an independent body in charge of the electronic media and controlling the media it has jurisdiction over, N1 said in a statement on Friday.
It said that REM issued a statement which included the views of the media regulator of Luxembourg (ALIA) on the serial Heroes of Evil Times on N1 but left out facts important to viewing the whole picture as well as criticism of its work.
“Rem is persistently attempting to discriminate media outlets such as N1 over the media that it awarded national frequency licenses to and which are spreading hate speech, broadcasting violence, instructions on how to kill people, interviewing convicted criminals and showing pornography.
“REM has tried to file charges against N1 with the Luxembourg regulator and to date, none of the violations that REM claims we committed have been found to be true. REM never informed the public that ALIA did not find any violations, especially not twice in the space of a single week. As a serious TV station, which follows all applicable regulations and ethical standards, we did not react to that manipulation by REM. However, we view today’s statement as continued pressure on our station which has become increasingly frequent over the past few weeks through targeting by public officials and REM, assisted by tabloids and TV stations with national licenses, a campaign by various right-wing organizations followed by the trespassing incident on the station grounds in Belgrade and now through incomplete statements by the media regulator who should be independent under the law.
REM consciously failed to publish the findings by the Luxembourg regulators relevant services, including the clear disputing of the claim by REM that the the N1 show a Ficus for the Boss damaged the reputation of Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, that it was hate speech and a trivialization of Nazi crimes.
ALIA said that the current political context in Serbia and the historic and philosophical framework that things should be viewed through requires it to be treated “as open criticism of the policies of the ruling party, not hate speech directed against Ana Brnabic”.
ALIA said that the references to the interview were not intended to demean Ana Brnabic, call for hatred against her but to “draw the attention of viewers to the fact that the law can step away from morals, the importance of the concept of collective accountability and that, within the limits of the practice of the European Court of Human Rights, express criticism of the policies of the current government and start a public debate on political issues. ALIA recalled the well-known international standard that politicians, especially state officials, have to tolerate a higher level of criticism and show greater tolerance because of the significance of their position, which the REM had to have known as electronic media regulator.
Although the ALIA Council disagreed and decided to issue a warning, which it has the right to do, it did address the REM claims of alleged hate speech towards the prime minister. The REM did not mention that in its statement, proving that it quotes regulations and decisions selectively depending on momentary needs.
What the public in Serbia won’t learn from the REM statement is the fact that the Luxembourg regulator concluded that the disputed sequence was a criticism of the authorities and its policies, especially the Serbian Prime Minister which is an area in which freedom of expression should have greater protection instead of hate speech against the Serbian Prime Minister. Because of that the ALIA Council stressed that the key thing is for media regulators (like REM) should be careful when qualifying certain behavior as hate speech and that the term should be interpreted strictly to avoid excessive limiting of freedom of expression by calling for the suppressing of hate speech when it’s a case of criticism of the authorities, state institutions and their policies.
REM did not publish that criticism of itself in its statement. Also, REM did not explain that the measure taken against N1 is a warning, the lowest level of measures.
N1 sticks to the highest journalistic and ethical standards in its reporting and will continue to do so with respect for the decisions of the competent regulator but has not and will not allow itself to become the victim of a selective approach and attempt to abuse legal proceedings aimed at preventing freedom of the media.