Promoting electronic media pluralism and diversity
The main aim of the measure 'Promoting electronic media pluralism and diversity in the Republic of Croatia' is to promote the production and publication of television and/or radio broadcasters audio-visual and radio programmes of public interest at local and regional level, and non-profit television and/or radio broadcasters audio-visual and radio programs of particular importance for the realization of the rights of citizens to public information; cultural diversity and preservation of heritage, development of education, science and arts; creativity in the dialects of the Croatian language, specific programs in the Areas of Special State Concern, national minorities in the Republic of Croatia, gender equality awareness, high-quality programmes for children and young people to promote their well-being. The stated aim is normatively stipulated in the Act on Electronic Media, adopted in 2009, prior to which the act passed in 2003 was in force. The act regulates the rights, obligations and responsibilities of legal and physical persans engaged in the provision of audio and audio-visual media services and electronic publication services via electronic communication networks and the interests of the Republic of Croatia in the field of electronic media. According to the general principles of the Act, freedom of expression and full programme freedom of electronic media is guaranteed, and the activity of broadcasting audio-visual and radio programmes is considered to be of public interest when programmes are related to: exercise of the right to public information and to keeping ali citizens of the Republic of Croatia and members of Croatian national minorities and communities abroad informed and to realisation of national minority rights in the Republic of Croatia; realisation of human rights and political rights of citizens and improvement of a law-based and social state and civil society; children and young people or are intended for children and young people; disabled persons and persons with special needs; equality between men and women; preservation of Croatian national and cultural identity; promotion of cultural and artistic creativity; public dialogue culture; development of education, science, art and sports; protection of nature, environment and human health and promotion of media literacy. ln several articles, the Act promotes cultural diversity, both linguistic and substantial.
The articles stated below are listed and explained individually.
Article 4 stipulates that the use of the Croatian language is not obligatory in programmes broadcasted for members of national minorities, in accordance with the Constitutional Act on the Rights of National Minorities. Under this provision, the exception to the general rule of the media service providers being obliged to publish programmes in Croatian language and Latin writing or translated into the Croatian language is established and linguistic diversity in electronic media is promoted.
Article 8 of the Act stipulates that The Republic of Croatia shall ensure the freedom of transmission and reception of audio and audio-visual media services from EU Member States and ether European states parties to the European Convention on Transboundary Television of the Council of Europe and that it may, in particular cases, restrict the freedom of broadcasting of those services only in compliance with international agreements and this Act. The stated provision, by which the harmonisation with the Audio-visual Media Services Directive is carried out, promotes cultural diversity of electronic media contents so as to allow for restriction of freedom of transmission only in precisely defined cases.
Article 9 of the Act stipulates that the activity of providing of audio-visual and radio programmes shall be in the interest of the Republic of Croatia when programmes relate to exercising the rights to public information and to keeping all citizens of the Republic of Croatia and members of Croatian national minorities and communities abroad informed and to exercising the rights of national minorities within the Republic of Croatia. This article stresses the importance of programmes aimed at realisation of national minority rights is thus guaranteeing equality of national minorities with respect to either citizens.
Article 21 of the Act stipulates that on-demand audio-visual media service providers shall put their best effort in their on demand audio-visual media service promoting, where feasible and by appropriate means, the production of and access to European works. This provision, by which the harmonisation with the Audio-visual media services Directive is carried out, promotes cultural diversity of the electronic media content by imposing the duty of promotion of European works.
Article 40 of the Act defines Croatian audio-visual works as works originally produced in the Croatian language or works intended for national minorities in their language as weil as works of Croatian cultural heritage. This provision confirms the equality of the Croatian language with respect to national minority languages.
Article 42 of the Act stipulates that the television broadcaster shall put its best efforts in reserving a majority proportion of their annual transmission time for European works. This provision obliges the television broadcaster to achieve the exactly determined percentage of European works in the total annual transmission time thus promoting cultural and linguistic diversity of electronic media.
Article 64 of the Act stipulates that the Funds means shall stimulate the production and broadcasting of television and/or radio broadcasters audio-visual and radio programmes of public interest at local and regional level and of non-profit television and/or radio broadcaster audio-visual and radio programmes of particular importance for promotion of cultural creativity, fostering of cultural heritage, promotion of works in dialects of the Croatian language and national minorities in the Republic of Croatia. This Article promotes the production and broadcasting of electronic media content of public interest and explicitly stresses the promotion of programmes important for the promotion of cultural diversity. The Fund for the Promotion of Diversity and Pluralism of Electronic Media created under the new Law on Electronic Media obliges the HRT (Croatian Radio-Television) to contribute with 3% of revenues generated from licence fees to the Fund. This support goes to the promotion of production and broadcasting of electronic media content of public interest at local and regional level of relevance to the right of citizens to public information, the rights of national minorities, promotion of cultural creativity and development of education, science and art. With changes in the Law on Electronic Media, regulations on the procedures for the Fund have been adopted by the Council for Electronic Media in 2009. The Croatian Constitution stipulates the use of language in the public sphere. According to the new Law on the Croatian Radio Television, the Croatian Radio-Television fosters the use of the Croatian language and Latin alphabet in radio and television programmes and promotes creativity in the Croatian language dialects . Ali other radio and television activities are bou nd by similar provisions. The use of the Croatian language is not obligatory when addressing the national minority members pursuant to the Constitutional Law on Rights of National Minorities (2002, amended in 2010 and 2011). The Law on the Use of Language and Script of National Minorities in the Republic of Croatia was enacted in 2000.
The measure Promoting Electronic Media Pluralism and Diversity is implemented via the Pluralism and Diversity Promotion Fund of the Agency for Electronic Media as
independent and autonomous legal person vested with public authority. The source of funding of the Fund are subscription fee funds collected by the Croatian Radio Television amounting to 3 % and unspent funds as per final account of the Agency for Electronic Media. The funding of the Fund is used to promote production and release of audio-visual and radio programmes of public interest of television broadcasters and/or radio at local and regional level and of non-profit television, radio broadcasters and non-profit internet sites as weil as employment of highly qualified professionals of those broadcasters. The criteria for allocation of funds represent the relevance of the audio-visual and/or radio programme for the realisation of the aims under the measure, the quality and content innovativeness of the submitted audio-visual and/or radio programme as weil as the interest for the general and local and regional cultural development. Based on these criteria, the Council for Electronic Media stipulates the modality and procedure of implementation of the public tender for the co-financing of audio-visual and radio programmes under the funding of the Fund, the monitoring of expenditures and of implementation of the programme for which the funding has been allocated.
Challenges identified in the implementation of this measure: ln implementing this measure the challenges are primarily related to the scope of coverage of the aid by the Pluralism and Diversity Promotion Fund covering only television and/or radio broadcasters and publishers of electronic publications and internet portals.