In Serbia, citizens who wish to submit complaints regarding broadcast media content can do so via digital platform www.publika.rs.
The www.publika.rs platform will be used so that citizens’ comments and complaints are forwarded to the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Media (REM) in a simpler and more transparent manner.
The platform is the result of work of the organization “Zaječarska inicijativa”, supported by the Open Society Fund.
“The ‘Publika’ platform was created out of the need to bridge significant deficiencies of the section for submitting citizens’ complaints on the REM website. All the complaints that citizens submit via our platform are visible and available to the public; the users do not need to register, and filling in of applications is automatized, so the users need not worry if they will miss something”, said Danko Nikolić, executive director of “Zaječarska inicijativa”.
“Publika” was initially lauched in 2015, to be upgraded now, allowing for easier sending of complaints. The new version is available as of 17 May 2018.
The platform will also have a blog featuring analyses and articles dealing with citizens’ participation in monitoring media content and the efficiency of REM.
Citizens’ role in monitoring media content was the central topic of the discussion that took place after the platform’s public promotion.
The debate participants agreed that REM does not fulfill its societal role: using its remit and competencies to regulate the broadcasters’ conduct and take care of the public interest.
Raša Nedeljkov, program director of the organization CRTA said that Serbia as a society lost a chance that REM becomes a control body in the media sphere.
Maja Divac, TV journalist and author of the publication “Citizens and Public Media Service – Models of Citizens’ Oversight of Public Media Service” , speaking about the ways of citizens’ participation in the oversight of public service media content, reminded the participants that the Serbian national public service broadcaster “Radio Television of Serbia (RTS)” has Program Council with limited influence, as well as that this broadcaster does not organize public debates where they could hear citizens’ complaints in direct communication with them.
“BBC has a perfectly organized service for receiving citizens’ complaints, and journalists and editors of BBC are constantly updates about them. There is another mechanism enabling citizens’ participation, and that this ombudsperson, or so-called protector of viewers, a person who is a point of communication between a TV and citizens. Such ombudspersons exist in France, Spain, Portugal, Slovenia”, Divac said.
The debate participants concluded that REM, but also RTS as the national public service broadcaster, should organize a campaign of educating citizens regarding their rights when it comes to their influence on media content.