REGISTER OF MEDIA IN REPUBLIC OF SERBIA
The Business Registers Agency (SBRA) keeps a pubic Register for Media where information on every medium and its owner is available.
Since a media outlet is not a legal person, available on the Business Registers Agency (SBRA) website are financial reports of media founders, more precisely, financial reports for the whole company and not just for its operations in connection with the media at issue.
Financial reports are submitted annually and they are updated on the APR website with a delay of even one and a half years.
Along with the information on the medium and its founder, also entered in the Media Register is information on the funding received from relevant ministries, cities and local self-governments based on competitions for media funding envisaged by the LPIM.
In addition to the Register for Media which is, under the LPIM, kept by the SBRA, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) at the same time keeps a Media Service Providers Register and a record of on-demand audio-visual media service providers, for the electronic media that this body is responsible for.
REM enters in the Register of Media Services the warnings and measures imposed on the holders of media service provider licenses, which are deleted from the Register after two years.
Untimely updating of the documentation in the Register of Media is a big problem yet there are no legal instruments that would compel the Registrar to update the database more frequently.
Which media organizations are covered by the reporting requirements? To whom must disclosure be made? How often/ in what cases has the data to be updated?
Under the law the media are obliged to submit information to the Register for Media, that is, to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) so it could be entered into the register.
The required documents that are to be submitted along with the application for registration are defined by a special Rulebook.
Untimely submission of the required information to the SBRA Register for Media is charged an additional tax of RSD 3,000.00.
The Law on Electronic Communications does not separately regulate the obligation to supply information nor does it envisage sanctions for failure to supply the required information.
Failure to inform the Regulatory Authority is not stipulated as a reason for the revoking of a license by the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (with the exception of the obligation to inform the regulatory Authority about changes in the ownership structure, in order to ensure the protection of media pluralism ).
The Law on the Procedure of Registration with the Serbian Business Registers Agency (SBRA) stipulates that submitting a false or falsified document, with the intent to use it as a real one, constitutes a criminal act which is to be punished with imprisonment from three months to five years.
Under the same law, filing an application with false data is also a reason for determination of invalidity of the registration of a business company by a legally binding court. However, the law does not stipulate in detail whether this sanction also applies to false data in an application to the Register submitted by a media founded by the business company in question.
Failure to submit an application is not defined by the law as a criminal act, offence or economic offence.
However, regarding the procedure before the SBRA, the Law on the Procedure of Registration with the Serbian Business Registers Agency stipulates that any and all issues that are not specifically regulated by this Law shall be subject to the Law on General Administrative Procedure of the Republic of Serbia.
In connection with this, under the general rules of the administrative procedure, the SBRA is authoriszed to carry out activities aimed at ensuring the registrants’ cooperation and their meeting of obligations.
The biggest problem of the legislation regarding the transparency of the SBRA’s or Regulatory Authority’s operation and registers that they keep is precisely the lack of an efficient legal mechanism that would compel the media to submit their reports and information to relevant bodies, and the relevant bodies, that is, the SBRA or the Regulatory Authority, to regularly update their databases and to release such information to the public in a timely manner.
The Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance accordingly also applies to the work of the Regulator which is open to the public and the Regulator is obliged to act in line with the regulations and orders issued by the commissioner.
WHAT INFORMATION IS REQUIRED
The Register of Media, with the Business Registers Agency, collects and releases the following information:
1) name and registration number of a medium
2) name and unique citizen identity number of a domestic natural person who is the editor-in chief of a medium or, where a foreign person is editor-in-chief, the passport number and the country of issuance of the passport;
3) media service licence number for electronic media;
4) information on the language in which a medium is issued or in which a media service is provided
5) information on the Internet, electronic and other formats of the medium;
6) website, where the medium is exclusively distributed via the Internet;
7) business name/title, address and company number of the media publisher/provider of media service;
8) document containing the information about the natural and legal persons who directly or indirectly have more than 5 % share in the authorised share capital of the publisher, the information about associated persons as defined under the law governing the legal status of companies, and the information about other publishers in whose authorised share capital these persons have more than 5 % share;
9) information on the amount of funds granted to a medium as state assistance, in accordance with the provisions of this law;
10) information on the amount of funds received from public authorities including state authorities, territorial autonomy authorities, local self-government authorities, organisations vested with public powers, and legal persons founded or funded, fully or mostly, by the Republic of Serbia, autonomous province, that is, a local self-government unit (hereinafter: public authority);
11) information on the average media circulation sold in a calendar year;
12) other documents based on which the registration was done;
13) date and time of registration;
14) changes in the registration information;
15) date and time of changes in the registration data.
The Regulatory Authority Register of Media Services collects the following information:
1) the name of media service;
2) the name of media service provider and information about the provider (name, tax identification number, registered office);
3) the number and date of issuance of the license, or the basis for providing services if it is provided with no obligation to obtain authorization or license;
4) the type of media services in accordance with Articles 43 and 44 of the Law on Electronic Media;
5) the period for which the authorization i.e. license is issued;
6) information about the responsible person of a media service provider;
7) information about the measures imposed on a media service provider;
8) a warning to a media service provider regarding a violation of media pluralism.
In addition to the Register, under the Law on Free Access to Information of Public Importance that the Law on Electronic Media refers to , the Regulatory Authority is also obliged to make available on its website the following information:
1) strategy for the development of radio media service and audio-visual media services in the Republic of Serbia;
2) regulations for the implementation of this Law and other general acts of the Regulatory Authority;
3) public competition for granting licenses;
4) decisions made at public competitions, with explanations;
5) data from the Register and record;
6) administrative court rulings in administrative proceedings initiated against a decision of the Regulatory Authority;
7) decisions imposing measures in accordance with the Law, with explanations;
8) annual report of the Regulatory Authority;
9) financial plan, financial reports and authorized auditor’s reports;
10) decisions on applications of natural and legal persons;
11) expert opinions, studies and analyses commissioned for the needs of the Regulatory Authority;
12) invitation and program of public debates, and reports on the public debates;
13) minutes from Regulatory Authority Council meetings.
Information listed in the previous question as mandatory elements of registers, are available on the Business Registers Agency and Regulatory Authority’s websites.
However, the SBRA website only offers the possibility of a database search by the name of a medium, that is, its registration number, thus it is practically impossible to view the media by their publishers, that is, to establish how many media an individual owner has.
The same goes for the register of media service providers on the REM website where, in addition to the search by name and registration, also offered is the criterion of the type of medium but not a search by name of owner, that is, of a license holder.
The absence of regular updating of information is the second major deficiency in the transparency of the information in the register.
Under the LPIM , the media are obliged to display on their website or in their print edition, in the form of imprint, information on their publisher. Under the law, failure to do so is an offense so a fine of RSD 100,000 to RSD 1,000,000 will be imposed on a legal person – publisher if it fails to publish the imprint.
The media are obliged to report to the Register of Media any/all changes of publisher within 15 days of the day the change occurred.
Electronic media within the jurisdiction of the Regulator are additionally obliged to inform the Regulator, in advance and in writing, of any planned change in the ownership structure or change in the founding capital.