Voters must have the freedom to form an opinion, and public authorities must respect the obligation of neutrality in relation to the media (VC I.3.1.a.i).  Administrative bodies must be obliged to implement legal sanctions for violations of the obligation of neutrality and freedom of voters to form an opinion. (I.3.1.c) The Code provides for an effective system of appeals in the electoral process (I.3.3), in which there must be the possibility of a final appeal to the court (I.3.3.a). In order for these standards to be met, it is necessary to undertake the following:

  1. Establish the exclusive competence of the REM in the process of monitoring the electronic media during the election campaign

    In order to avoid the negative effects of the parallel competence of the Supervisory Board and the REM in the oversight of public media services during the election campaign, it is necessary to amend the Law on the Election of Members of Parliament and to exclude the oversight of all electronic media from the Supervisory Board. In addition, given that during the election campaign for the elections of 2022, the Provisional Supervisory Body for Media Monitoring had certain competencies in media control, it is necessary to implement measures aimed at strengthening the independence and quality of the REM work so that it could independently and professionally exercise media control during the election process.
  2. Precisely prescribe the REM obligations during the election campaignIt is necessary to amend the Law on Electronic Media and explicitly oblige the REM to periodically publish (for instance once in two weeks during the campaign) written reports on the monitoring and analysis of electronic media during the election campaign and to publish the final Report on the oversight of the work of electronic media during the election campaign no later than one month after the announcement of the final election results, on the basis of monitoring programme content broadcast by media service providers, from its competence ex officio and according to a pre-published monitoring plan.
  3. Establish criteria for sampling media service providers monitored during the election campaignThe amendment to the Law on Electronic Media should stipulate that during the election campaign, the REM must monitor:- public media services;

    – all media service providers who have been issued a license for terrestrial broadcasting for the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia;

    – the appropriate sample of MSPs with local and regional coverage, taking into account the geographical distribution, where the sample is formed to include media service providers that received the highest amounts of funds through co-financing of public information projects in the period from the announcement of overall results of the last election to the day of sample determination;

    the appropriate sample of media services with highest ratings that have a license for broadcasting via cable network, where the viewership is determined on the basis of data from an authorised agency specialised in viewership research.

  4. Determine the obligation of the REM to adopt a methodology for monitoring MSP during the campaign in a transparent procedure before each election campaign and determine the mandatory elements of that methodology

    REM’s obligation to determine the methodology of monitoring MSP during the election campaign must be determined by the Law on Electronic Media. The methodology would be determined in the form of a by-law, for the adoption of which, in accordance with the Law, it is necessary to hold a public debate. In addition to the measurement of actors’ display time, the methodology would particularly focus on: selection of the observation period; selection of subjects; measurement of objects as well as definition of tonality.

  5.  Specify the mandatory elements of the MSP Repost on the oversight during the campaign

    The amendment to the Law on Electronic Media should stipulate that during the election campaign, the REM must publish reports once in two weeks and that the final report on MSP monitoring must be published no later than 30 days from the day of announcing the overall election results. It is necessary to prescribe that reporting be done on the basis of conducted qualitative and quantitative analysis of programme content, whereas reports must contain findings of the REM expert service regarding equal representation of candidates, i.e. election lists in the media, media reporting on candidate activities, records of public appearances of electoral actors in the role of state officials and candidates, the context in which a particular participant in the election is mentioned, as well as other important aspects of media work that may have an impact on objective and comprehensive informing of citizens about candidates and election programmes.
  6. Ensure transparency of collected data

    In order for the public to have access to all data collected by the REM through monitoring, it is necessary to introduce clear mechanisms for the attribution and determination of the responsibilities of the REM Council and to oblige the REM by the Law on Electronic Media to publish the data collected by monitoring in the form of an open database on its website on a daily basis.

  7.  Enable judicial review of all REM decisions made upon complaints

    It is necessary to amend the Law on Electronic Media and prescribe the obligation of the REM to initiate proceedings and make a reasoned decision on each complaint submitted during the election campaign, including those alleging a violation of the general interest, which may be subject to judicial review.

  8. Include the report of the expert service for oversight and analysis in the reasoning of the decision

    It is necessary to introduce the obligation to include the report of the expert service for oversight and analysis in the reasoning of the decision on complaints, so that complainants can be aware of the facts and circumstances that were decisive for making a particular decision.

  9. Provide short deadlines for the REM to decide on citizens’ complaints

    In order for the control of the election campaign to be efficient, it is necessary to amend the Law on Electronic Media and oblige the REM to make a decision in the procedure on complaints of natural or legal persons during the campaign within 96 hours of receiving the complaint. Aditionnally, it is necessary to consider the possibility that, even outside the election campaign, the REM decides within a short period of time in cases where complaints pinpoint hate speech or violation of the rights of minors.

  10. Provide a more effective mechanism for punishing broadcasters that do not follow the rules during the campaign

    In order for the sanctions that the REM imposes on media service providers to have a greater effect on media service providers that violate the law, it is necessary to consider the possibility of enabling the REM to implement its decision through indirect coercion, by imposing monetary fines, if the MSP does not act in accordance with the imposed measure, as well as the possibility of enabling the REM to impose fines in a fixed amount, in addition to the measures that it currently has at its disposal.