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Citizenship and governance raise a number of issues on the role of the media in the creation of public opinion about European institutions and the overall legitimacy of the European project. It is clear that the media plays a larger role than has hitherto been supposed in this area, and that this has important policy implications not only for national governments but also for the European institutions themselves. Questions of governance and democratic legitimacy, and the related issues of the role of the media and the formation of public opinion, have become an increasingly common leit-motif of academia, political and administrative discourses within the EU. At the same time, the emergence of a growing level of scepticism about the European project among EU electorates has been highlighted by recent Eurobarometer reports, and given unmistakable political expression in the rejection of the Nice Treaty by the Irish electorate in 2001. Further Eurobarometer studies, in particular, show a significant correlation between skepticism about, or hostility towards, the European project, and the degree to which accurate, appropriate and timely public information on European issues is available within different national contexts. An important new dimension has been added to this debate by the accelerating process of EU enlargement, particularly where the media is concerned. This first part of the workshop shall explore these issues.
The second part of the workshop aims at reviewing recent and current developments in media regulation in European states, most notably in relation to the importance of a diverse media for political pluralism. In relation to the accession countries, it will add to this an analysis of the ways in which media freedom and diversity is, or may become, an important agent for the promotion and protection of democratisation. It will also examine the degree to which standards of media freedom, independence, and the absence of coercive government policies to which Member Mtates have by and large become accustomed may be expected to become an informal, but nonetheless important, part of the acquis communautaire, and the newly emerging European convention, guaranteeing for the citizens of both existing and acceding Member States a diversity of sources of public information and comment, as well as levels of access to the media, which are essential for the protection and extension of democratic governance. This is a pilot workshop which is intended to highlight issues for further researchThe below following sections overview the market and national media regulation in the accession states: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia
Czech television market
The national television market is dominated by 4 terrestrial stations - Czech TV1, Czech TV2, NOVA TV and Prima TV - which draw 95% of audience share. In addition, there are 11 regional TV stations 40 local TV stations with limited reach. There are presently 9 satellite operators and 5 main cable operators (mostly UPC owned) with low audience share
TV NOVA 44,2, CT1+2 29,9, TV Prima 20,3, others 5,6
Czech television market
Source: Company reports and CIT publications
The dominant market player, NOVA TV, receives 42.2% of audience share. Its news programmes draw a greater audience than the public service broadcaster. NOVA TV is owned by CET 21. The ownership of which has been long disputed. NOVA TV was directed by the Czech Senator Vladimir Zelezný who claimed a 60% share in CET until 2002 when he sold his shares in to the MEF Holding group through other companies (Edicon). Another, investment group PPF invested in CET 21 in 2002.
US Republican Ronald Lauder, CME owner and former US ambassador to Hungary, disputed Zelezný's ownership. The Czech Republic was ordered to pay awarded $500 million in compensation by the International Court of Arbitration ruling for failing to safeguard the interests of CME's stake in NOVA TV. CET 21 and MEF Holding have up until now paid $28,953,003 in compensation to CME on behalf of Zelezný (see details).
In October 2001 a Prague city court ruled that Zelezny's property could be seized to pay off a further 27 million to the Czech Republic. Accordingly, the 60% business interest of Mr. Zelezný was distrained by the court on 24. 10. 2001. The ownership was reported by CET's remaining owners to the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting as the following: Vilja a.s. (the PPF group) 52.1%; Peter Krsák 41.6%; other partners (CEDC, # S) own 6.2%. In June 2002, CET dismissed Vladimir Zelezny as director. However, this move failed in the same week, and Zelezny remained director. Meanwhile Zelezny was voted into political office as senator. In October 2002, the Minister of Justice Pavel Rychetský declared that Zelezný has a right to immunity from prosecution but this would be subject to a vote in the Senate. The court case over ownership shares in CET 21 is still pending.
Prima TV is presently owned by FTV Premiera which is 100 % owned by GES Media Holding, which is owned by Czech investors (Ivan Zach [60 %], Radka Zachova [20 %] and Petra Marschallova [20 %]). Prima TV was the first private television station in Prague in 1993 founded by Finmedia, a subsidiary of Berlusconi's Fininvest. The licence was held by the group Premiera TV. The state bank IPB (privatised in 1998) bought the licence holder Premiera TV 1994. IPB was bought by the Prague-based law firm Burns Schwartz (which belonged to a Canadian Irwin Schwarz) then sold in 2001 to the Japanese group, Nomura Europe. IPB collapsed in 2001 and there was much discrepancy over the ownership of its assets including TV Prima. The government declared IPB bankrupt and sold it to Ceskoslovenska Obchodni Banka (CSOB), owned by KBC of Belgium (one of Europe's largest banks). The bank holding company Domeana claimed ownership of the licence of Prima TV thereby shielding it from the bankrupcy proceeding. Domeana is majority owned by GES Holding.Czech Print Market
The Czech Republic has 18 daily newspapers and out of the top 10 sellers, 7 are national and 3 are regional. The newspapers Zemské noviny and Slovo recently closed, and were replaced by Deníky Bohemia.
Czech press market
Source: Manzer ABC CR, Rijen Market share in national dailies (as of October 2002). Note: shares calculated on the basis of daily average circulation. Daily newspaper reach is high in the Czech Republic at 67.2% per household (source: WAN).
Rheinisch- Bergische Verlgasgellschaft (FRG): publishes the Czech dailies Mlada Fronta Dnes, Lidove noviny, (through its subsidiaries Mafra a.s. and Lidove noviny a.s. respectively) and other papers. In 2001, FRG sold off the Moravian newspaper Rovnost and the Moravian Silesian paper Svoboda to Passauer Neue Presse. Svoboda was thereafter merged with Moravskoslezsky denik.
PoL Print KG (Passauer Neue Presse): controls more than forty regional dailies (click here for details).
publishes the daily BLESK and the following periodicals: Blesk,
Nedelní Blesk (Sunday edition), Blesk magazín plus TV
(supplement), Sport (daily), Sport magazín, ABC (bi-weekly),
Reflex (weekly), Týdeník Televize (weekly), TV Revue and
TV plus (weeklies, supplements) (click
here for details). Ringier sold the weekly TYDEN and Profit to other
publishers. Tyden is published by a real estate enterpreneur Sebastian
Pawlowski (Mediascop s.r.o.). Profit, published by Standford a.s., has
a lower circulation.
Mittelrhein-Verlag MRV-Beteiligungs GmbH (FRG) publishes the daily Ostravsky den, and other papers. It sold off Zemske noviny, Slovo in December 2001 when they were bought by Vltava-Labe Press which merged the two into one Prague newspaper, Vecernik Praha, part of regional chain of dailies.
HB-DOW Jones, S.A. (registered in Belgium): owns 44.5 % of the Economia a.s. publishing house and publishes the Hospodarske noviny daily, the Ekonom magazine, and other publications.
The main players at the print media market and their latest circulation
are available at the address
Czech Media Regulation
The 2001 Act on Radio and Television Broadcasting implemented the Television Without Frontiers directive. Minimum quotas for European works were introduced. The law mandates that these measures are to be attached to broadcasting licenses at the time of issue. The law automatically extends the licenses of private television and radio broadcasters for 12 and 8 years respectively. When the Chamber of Deputies passed the law, it overrode President Havel who had objected to the extension of the licences. The law increased the members of the Council for Radio and Television to 13, but it introduced a provision maintaining that any member can be dismissed by Parliament at any time. The exact quotation from the Act is "(1) The Council consists of 13 members who are appointed and removed by the Prime Minister based on the proposal made by the House of Deputies; the appointment shall be carried out immediately after receiving the proposal."
Ownership restrictions were introduced in Article 55 of the 2001 Act, in that a national broadcaster (radio or television) cannot own any other national broadcaster. But no percentage limit exists on shares within companies, so 100 % ownership is legal. A limit on advertising states that it must not exceed 10 % of daily transmission time (the European Convention provides for up to 15 %).
The law on the public service Czech Television was also enacted in 2001. It stipulates that 15 members are appointed to Czech Television Council.
A Press Law was introduced in the Czech Republic in 2000 (Law Nr. 46/2000). There is an indirect support of the press in the form of a five % VAT levy on newspapers and magazines.
The Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting of the Czech Republic oversees the regulation of radio and television broadcasting. It also decides on the granting and removing of licences for television and radio broadcasting. The Council reports to the Lower House of the Czech Parliament and has 13 members. The Council is elected every 6 years and its members can serve a maximum of 2 terms of office
The 3 terrestrial TV-stations with the largest audience share are Estonian Television (ETV), Kanal 2 and TV3. A fourth station, by origin Estonian but eventually Polsat-owned TV1, went bankrupt and ceased broadcast in October 2001. ETV is a public broadcasting TV-station. Other national TV-stations are in private hands: Kanal 2 (operates since 1993) is owned by Norvegian company Schibsted and TV3 (operates since 1996) is owned by Modern Times Group, the subsidiary of Swedish company Kinnevik (owned by the US-based multi-millionaire Jan Stenbeck). TV3 is a part of Viacom Group from 1999. It is also possible to receive Finland's four main terrestrial television channels in Estonia. Cable-TV penetration is more than 40% of Estonian households. The cable operators provide about 50-60 TV-channels, more than 15 Russian television channels are among them.
There are 29 radio stations in Estonia, 1 public and 28 private, 16 of the private stations have regional and 12 local coverage. The national public service radio station Eesti Raadio (Estonian Radio) has 4 programmes (General, Youth, Classical Music and Russian channels). The deputy mayor of Tallin, Rein Lang (Reform Party), owns 4 radio stations, including the Tallin station with the largest audience share, KUKU Radio.
Estonian television market
An EU accession referendum is to be held in September 2003.
Estonia has 7 daily newspapers, 5 Estonian language, 2 in Russian and 22 regional newspapers (18 in Estonian, 4 in Russian). The most widely read national daily is the tabloid called SL Õhtuleht. The two national dailies Postimees and Eesti Paevaleht are becoming increasingly regional in focus, as they center on the Estonian cities of Tallin and Tartu respectively.
Estonian print market
Source: Estonian Newspaper Association
The national print market was dominated in the late 1990s by two key Estonian-owned publishing groups - Postimees and Ekspress Group - but foreign ownership brought further concentration when Sweden's Bonnier Group and Norway's Schibsted bought controlling stakes in these groups. Fierce competition resulted in circulation wars between Bonnier and Schibsted, particularly between the daily tabloids Sõnumileht and Ohtuleht. By March 2000, Bonnier and Schibsted merged Sõnumileht and Ohtuleht into one tabloid called SL Õhtuleht which now dominates the national newspaper market. In 2001, the Estonian business man, Hans Luik bought out in Bonnier Group's stakes in the Ekspress Group - and now holds 100% ownership.
The Norwegian group, Schibsted has a majority shareholding in the country's largest media group, Eesti Meedia Group, which in turn owns 100% of the national newspaper Postimees, 50% of the tabloid daily SL Ohtuleht, 100% of the national television channel, Kanal 2, several magazines and some local newspapers and one local radio station.
In 2001, Vitali Haitov, owner of the two largest-circulation Russian-language newspapers, Estoniya and Vesti Nedelya Plus was shot dead. Haitov's son was killed the year before. Haitov's business partner, Gennady Ever received the publishing house. In September 2002, Ever was arrested under suspicion of being involved in Haitov's murder. Currently the Vesti publishing house is owned by Endel Siff, one of the richest businessman in Estonia. The Russian newspaper Molodezhka Estonii is owned and managed by Igor Savenkov who owns the second biggest alcoholic vodka producer Onistar.
The Estonian News Agency (ETA) closed in January 2003 due to heavy debt. ETA began in 1918 as a state organisation, was privatised in 1999 and declared bankrupt in 2000. The organisation's ownership is unknown.
The 1994 Broadcasting Act gave legal recognition to private and commercial television. The government supervises the award of frequencies. In 2000 the broadcasting regulation was brought into accordance with Television Without Frontiers Directive, the provisions of articles 4 and 5 of the TWF were adapted into the national regulation. Estonian Broadcasting Act stipulates, that the broadcasters shall ensure that at least 51% of the annual transmission time excluding the time appointed to news, sports events, games, advertising, teleshopping and teletext services is reserved for European works, at least 10 per cent for the European works created by independent producers and at least 10 per cent of the monthly transmission time for the own production. In addition the broadcaster shall transmit at least 50 per cent of the minimum amount of own production during the prime broadcasting time between the hours of 19.00 and 23.00.
The print media recieves a zero % value added tax for
subscriptions although the single copy sales are taxed with the regular
rate of 18 %.
The public broadcasting is overseen by the Broadcasting
Council. The Council has 9 members who are appointed by the Estonian
Parliament (Riigikogu). 5 Council members are MP's and are representing
the main Parliament fractions (both coalition and opposition parties),
4 members are experts. The broadcasting licenses are issued by the Ministry
of Culture. The Media division of the Ministry's Media and Copyright
Department has the obligation to carry out control how the TV and radio
stations meet the requirements of the Broadcasting Act and particular
licenses. The National Communications Board of the Ministry of Transportation
and Communication is responsible for issuing licenses to Cable-TV operators.
A Press Council was established in 1991 but split in 2002 due to internal disagreement. There are now two Press Councils operate simultaneously in Estonia. One is funded by the Broadcasting Association and includes members from the broadcasting association, the journalist's association and academics. The second is funded and run by the Estonian Newspaper Association.
The national television market is dominated by 3 terrestrial stations(TV1, Kanal 2 and TV3) which draw 80 % of audience share. In addition, there are 450 cable television companies.
Hungarian television market
Source: CIT publications 2001
In 1993, licenses were issued to local private radio stations and satellite television and cable. The first to receive radio licenses were Radio Bridge (run by Voice of America) which was set up to commemorate the visit of George Bush in 1989. Two other stations were Radio 11 and Radio Juventus. Radio Juventus is owned by the US Metromedia International. Cable television penetration is high. Today there are estimated to be around 450 cable television companies operating at the local level. ORTT is attempting to register all of the cable television operators. The largest cable operator, UPC Hungary, is owned by the US company United Pan-European Comms. Most operators are supplied by HBO (owned by Time Warner). It's estimated that 80 % of cable programming is American.
In 1997, national television licences were issued and RTL-Klub and TV2 were awarded terrestrial licences. CME (under the name Iris Television) was given a satellite license for its terrestrial channel TV3. CME disputed the award. In March 1998, the Budapest Metropolitan Court upheld the ORTT's decision. CME appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favour of CME and ruled RTL's tender invalid. ORTT appealed to the Constitutional Court. Before a decision was taken, the rival group SBS (which owns TV2) bought TV3 from CME in February 2000, and closed the station down the very next day.
Hungary has 6 daily newspapers and 7 regional papers. The national dailies Nepszabadsag and Blikk are the most widely sold.
Hungary's newspaper market
Source: author's calculation based upon CIT data and academic articles
The Swiss group, Ringier, owns the tabloid, Blikk Nemzeti sport, and the tabloid Vasárnapi Blikk. The Swiss investor Jürgen Maquard owns the newspapers, Magyar Hírlap and the tabloid, Mai Nap, jmg Ost Presse AG (Jörg Marquard, Svica). The German group Axel Springer owns the magazine Világgazdaság.
Magyar Nemzet was owned by a subsidiary of the state-owned Postabank and directly subsidized by taxpayers. The advertising firm, Mahir, which owns Napi Magyarorszag, bought Magyar Nemzet in April 2002. Magyar Nemzet and Napi Magyarorszag are both printed at a discount by a press that also prints official gazettes. On April 17, Mahir bought Magyar Nemzet and merged the two papers. The result resembles Magyar Nemzet, while its content is closer to that of Napi Magyarorszag, which was the more conservative of the two and strongly supported the Prime Minister Orbán before he was voted out of office in May 2002.
The 1996 Media Law places limitations on private ownership: a 49% cap on shares in a private broadcasters; shareholders of one broadcaster cannot hold shares in another broadcaster (regardless of whether the broadcaster is national or regional, television or radio); press owners with controlling interests in national newspapers cannot hold shares in national broadcasters (and vice versa); regional newspaper owners (with circulation of less than 10,000 copies) cannot hold a controlling share in a broadcasters which overlaps their newspaper circulation by 80%; and 26% of shares in broadcasters and the majority of board members must be held by Hungarian citizens with a permanent residence in Hungary. Company accounts, information about cross-media ownership, and changes in ownership and location are to be reported to the Foundations.
The European Convention on Transfrontier Television (ECTT) was ratified by Hungary in 1996 and it came into effect the following year. Hungary also ratified the Amending Protocol to the ECTT in 2000 (by tacit acceptance). The actual incorporation of the ECTT into national law took place with the passage of Act XLIX of 1998 on the Promulgation of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.
An amendment in 2002 brought national legislation into line with the relevant accession requirements of the European Union (EU). Added to the law are provisions on: a minimum of 50% European works and a further 25% Hungarian works; a ban on advertising containing false information; rules on alcohol advertising; rules on advertising and programming addressing minors; the clear separation of advertising and programming; a limit on advertising to 15% of broadcasting time; 10% of programming resources must go for EU content production or independent producers, plus an additional 5% must go towards Hungarian content. The rules on domestic content are of course not a requirement of TWF.
The National Radio and Television Commission (ORTT) awards licenses for private terrestrial and satellite channels and oversees private radio and television channels. It has around 7 members, at least 5 of which are elected by a simple majority of all members of parliament. The remaining 2 members are nominated by parliamentary groupings (one member per "grouping"). If a "grouping" only consists of one political party, it is entitled to nominate 2 members. The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister jointly nominate the Chairperson of the ORTT.
The National Communications and Information Council (NHIT) was set up to replace the National Frequency Council and advises the government on a wide range of media issues, including bringing the country's media policies in line with EU guidelines.
The national television stations with the largest audience are TVP, Polsat 1 and TVN which draw of 85 % of audience share. In addition, there is: the regional network TV 4 (terrestrial); the satellite station, Canal + Polska (UPC-CanalPlus/Agora owned), the digital satellite platform Cyfra + (UPC-CanalPlus owned), a network of local TV stations, circa 36 satellite channels and about 500 cable television operators.
Polish television market
When KRRiTV awarded the national commercial license in 1994, bids from foreign groups, Time Warner, Bertelsmann, and Reuters, were turned down in favour of the small domestic producer, Polsat owned by the returned emigrant Zygmund Solorz. Zygmund Solorz is considering selling shares in Polsat. Interested buyers are News Corporation and the Polish publishing group, Agora.
Broadcasts from outside Poland are regulated by the European Convention for Transfrontier Television, to which Poland has acceded. These include Polonia 1 (Fininvest-owned) broadcast from Luxembourg. Cable television is concentrated in few hands in the larger Polish cities, where markets tend to be either divided into two or fully monopolised (by Time Warner).
Most radio stations have foreign investors. The French company EDI (through Eurozet) has shares in Radio Zet and Radiostacja. The German company, Eurocast, has shares in Radio WAWa. The UK company, GWR Group PLC, has shares in Radio TOK FM. The USA group, Cox Enterprises has shares in 14 local stations through its shares in Agora. The UK/US investment trust, Advent International, has shares in Radio Kolor, Radio Zet and Radiostacja. Only 2 prominent private radio stations remain 100% Polish. These are the national radio RMF FM and the Radio Eska (owned by ZPR SA which controls 11 companies which were granted licences to broadcast in 18 Polish towns).
Polish print market
Poland has 94 daily newspapers, 16 are national and 78 are regional.
Polish print market
Source: CIT 2001, see also http://www.pbczyt.pl
Gazeta Wyborcza was established in 1989, as an enterprise of the Solidarity movement. From the start, this newspaper was owned by Agora, a Polish limited liability company, which was set up by the anti-Communist movement. The group Agora owns 100 % of Gazeta Wyborcza, 27 radio stations, 16 magazines and shareholdings in other ventures. Gazeta Wyborcza has the largest national circulation. In 1999, the group went public and is quoted on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. 40.2% of shares are free floating, 10.3 % belong to the US group Cox Poland Investments and 38.9 % belong to Agora employees. Leading journalists have received significant shares in the ownership of Agora (which has made them millionaires in Euro terms).
In Poland, regional papers have a large circulation in their respective regions. Much of the regional market is foreign-owned. The Norwegian group Orkla owns the national daily Rzeczpospolita and 10 Polish local newspapers. The German group, Passauer Neue Presse, (through Polskapresse S.A.) owns 20 newspapers and and weekly magazines, including: Dziennik Baltycki/ Wieczór Wybrzeza, Dziennik Lódzki/Wiadomosci Dnia, Express Ilustrowany, Dziennik Zachodni, Trybuna Slaska, Gazeta Wroclawska, Gazeta Krakowska, Gazeta Poznanska, Moto Express and a number of printing houses. The German Group Bauer owns 15 Polish magazines and the TV guide Tele Tydizien. Springer and Bertelsmann (through Gruner + Jahr Polska) dominate the magazine market.
The Marquard Group, which has holdings in 11 European states publishes the following titles in Poland: Sport, Przegląd Sportowy and Tempo, and glossy magazines including Dziewczyna, Cosmopolitan and C.K.M. The Marquard Group published the national daily, Express Wieczorny, which had been the most popular Warsaw evening newspaper for 40 years until 1999 when it ceased publication due to financial difficulties. It's supplement is now published as a weekly.
Polish media policy
The 1992 Act set a share ownership limit of 33%, but ownership of cable and satellite systems was not limited. The 1992 Act was amended in 1993 with a 30% minimum requirement in programming from domestic producers. A later Decree by the National Council required 60 % of PSB programming to be domestic, and 45 % of private programming to be of European production. European and Polish language-quotas are in line with EU regulations. Any changes in station ownership must actually be approved by the National Broadcasting Council. An amendment to the act introduced rules on content harmful to child audiences (1994). The Council passed a number of Decrees since this time, most dealing with electoral campaigning and funding issues (1996; 1998, 2000, 2001).
Amendments to the Broadcasting Act proposed in 2002 by the KRRiTV incorporated remaining TWF provisions. As later changed by the government, the bill proposed rules on cross-media ownership: a company already holding a television or radio broadcasting license (which covers more than 80% of the population) would not - if the bill is passed - be able to acquire another nationwide television or radio station. Similarly publishers of national or regional daily newspapers with a market share in excess of 30% would not be permitted to acquire television or radio networks covering the entire country. The media ownership proposals have caused public conflict between the current SLD government and the Agora publishing group with its politically influential leader Adam Michink (supported by President Kwasniewski) which is bidding to purchase Polsat.Regulatory Bodies
The Broadcasting Council (KRRiTV) was established in 1993. It is charged with the task of formulating national braodcasting policy, licensing private radio and television broadcasters and setting the level of the license fee. In Poland, previous to 1997, the President nominated the Council director. As in Hungary the power to dismiss was not delineated. This power of the president was called into question in 1994 when the Polish Constitutional Tribunal ruled that President Walesa's dismissal of the director (Markiewicz) from the Council was unlawful. From 1997, procedure was changed and the Council chairman was elected by Council members. Members cannot be dismissed before their 6 year term has ended.
Programming Boards serve as advisory bodies on PSB programming. Each public service broadcaster (there are 19 of them: TVP, Polish Radio and 17 regional radio stations) has a Programming Board. Members are appointed by KRRiTV after consultation with parliamentary groups and public organisations (e.g. universities, schools) for six year terms. Members are drawn from parliament and civil society groups. Each board has 15 members.
4 terrestrial stations (SLO 1, SLO 2, POPTV and Kanal A) draw the majority of audience share. In addition, a further 50 cable and satellite channels broadcast in the Slovene language. Despite the 33 % cap on ownership, the Scandinavian SBS owns majority shares in the national commercial channels POPTV and Kanal A. This is through SBS' 90 % stake in CME and 78 % stake in Kanal A.
Slovene television market
Slovene print market
source: Hvatin-Basic Mediawatch December 2002
The Austrian publishing house Styria is rumoured to
be negotiating with the state fund Krekova and the publishing house
DZS about acquiring shares in the newspapers Delo and Dnevnik
respectively. In addition, the state fund Krekova is to trade shares
with the publishing house DZS. DZS would gain 50% of control of Delo.
In return Krekova would get 43% of Dnevnik.
The 1994 Mass Media Law of 1994 focuses on privatisation and market regulation. For the press, the law includes provisions on the autonomy of journalists, journalistic codes and editorial independence. It also places emphasis on the right to reply, but refers to the infringement of personal rights rather than the publication of incorrect information about a person. The Act also requests that freelance journalists be registered with the Ministry for Culture (this does not work in practice).
Turning to broadcasting, the 1994 law requires no prior authorisation on the transfer of companies' shares and foreign capital is not limited. There are requirements ontransparency and ownership, but this has not worked in practice. Company accounts must be made public. Transparency measures include a yearly communication Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia of the following information: name and place of residence of owners and the address of the headquarters of companies that own more than 10% of media capital (any changes must be communicated to the Gazette within 15 days); and sources of financing. Publication in the Gazette however has not yet worked in practice. Ownership of radio and television stations is capped at 33%. This excludes 'students' organisations or self-managed minorities'. Ownership of a second (radio or television) station was restricted to 10 % under the 1994 law, but this was raised to 20 % in 2001. Newspaper owners were also restricted to 10 % ownership of a second newspaper (now 20 %). Advertising agencies were restricted to 10 % ownership of broadcasting companies (now 20 %). There was no provision in the 1994 Act for prohibiting ownership by 'associated' persons (blood relations, spouses, etc), so Article 57 of the 2001 Act was added to close this gap. Ownership provisions have not worked in practice.
The 1994 contains provisions on impartiality, accuracy of information and pluralism of opinion. 50% of PSB programming must go towards cultural and educational content, and at least 50% of programming output must be of Slovene production. The law ensures pluralist the representation of minority groups in broadcasting with programming in Italian and Hungarian. This is largely a carry-over from Yugoslavian practice (established back in 1971) whereby it was hoped that representation of minorities would result in political reciprocity in Hungary and Italy.
The 2001 Media Act was prepared by the Ministry of Culture and took effect in May 2001. Compared to the Media Act from 1994, new law is long and detailed, with around 50 sanctions for digression of the law laid out in Articles 56 - 58 with heavy fines. The Mass media Act of 2001 assigned to the Ministry of Culture the power to restrict the concentration of ownership. Ownership in a radio or television station or a daily newspaper is still restricted to 20% share, but shares can be increased over the 20% limit with special permission from the Ministry of Culture. The Ministry is obliged to refuse its approval if the decision would lead to a buyer gaining a monopoly over advertising. A 'monopoly' in this case means gaining control over more than 30% of radio or television advertising time, or coverage that exceeds 40% of the national coverage. As for the daily newspapers, this translates into 40% of the total sold copies in Slovenia (this means that at the moment two largest daily newspapers violate this provision). The Act also allows the government to levy a tax of 8% of profit from telecommunications and broadcasting companies which is to go into the development of infrastructure and the subsidization of audiovisual production from independent Slovene producers. The measure has come under attack from telecommunications and media companies which are contesting in the Constitutional Court.
Non-commercial local, regional and student radio and television stations are to be granted a 3% share of the PSB license fee. RTV Slovenia has disputed this provision, as the number of homes with television remains small (600,000) and revenue raised by the license fee is small.
The 2002 newly established Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Post Agency is to regulate both media and telecommunications together. It funds the Broadcasting Council and the new 'inspector for the media', who is attached to the Ministry for Culture.
The Broadcasting Council is a voluntary body consisting of 7 members directly elected by Parliament. It is to monitor programming. It has no power to sanction companies, only to report to Parliament, the new Telecommunications, Broadcasting and Post Agency and to the Ministry of Culture. An amendment in the 2001 law stipulated that Council members would in future be elected by open ballot. Individuals with business links to RTV Slovenia can no longer be appointed to the Council.
This paper was compiled by Alison Harcourt with comments from workshop participants. Corrections/comments/updates are welcome.
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