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Macedonia: Amendments to the Law on the Public Procurement [1]

Borce Manevski

The latest amendments to the Law on the Public Procurement (Законот за јавни набавки), which are now at the end of the year 2014 in a stage of second reading in the parliamentary procedure, allow the state and public institutions to advertise in the media without the possibility of a public bidding in favor of the competitors on the media and advertising markets. The amendments to Article 2 of the Law on the Public Procurement widens the existing exceptions of public procurement for the so called "political advertising areas", allowing the government as well as the other state and public institutions and agencies to use public and state funds in order to promote themselves and their activities in the media. Keeping in mind that the audiovisual media sector is only one part of the media sector, these proposed amendments also have relevance for the audiovisual media sector.

The political advertising has become one of the predominant components of the advertising market in the past several years. According to the annual reports of the Agency for Audio and Audiovisual Media, the central government was the top advertiser in year of 2013 with regard to the purchased advertising time. With respect to the advertising funds spent, the central government was on the second position with almost 4.99 percent of the total advertising market, which includes six free-to-air TV broadcasters. The biggest advertiser for 2013 (an international commercial company) was present with 5.40 percent on the TV advertising market. The other political entity, which was present on the advertising market and in the five top advertisers, was the ruling political party VMRO-DPMNE with 2.84 percent participation in the overall advertising market regarding the TV broadcasting sector.

Therefore, the political advertising as an advertising category is notably present on the advertising market with 7.83 percent, meaning that only the central government and the ruling political party VMRO-DPMNE have concluded contracts with the free-to-air broadcasters about a budget volume of 25 million Euros. On the other side, there is no public information about how much the other ministries, state agencies and local institutions have spent for their self-promotion activities in the media. The high rate of the government’s advertising was also noted by the European Commission in the latest Country’s Progress Report for 2014 as one of the main factors that affects the freedom of the media. The report concluded, that the situation of the media freedom in Macedonia has continued to deteriorate. According to the report, the influence of the government on the media is exercised by state-financed advertising, which is an indirect form of state control of the media.

The Association of Journalists is worried that there will be a lack of transparency and fair competition; if the state institutions are allowed to decide free by themselves with which media outlet they will conclude a contract. In the opinion of the Association of Journalist such a situation could further worsen the position of the freedom of the media. According to the Press Freedom Index of the Reporters without Borders, the country of Macedonia is on the 123 position of this list, which is one of the lowest rankings in Europe.

Because the opposition has boycotted the parliament since last spring due to the deep political crisis, it is expected that the ruling parliamentary majority will adopt the proposed amendments.

[1] This article is kindly supported by the electronic newsletter "IRIS - Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory" available free of charge. More information at: www.obs.coe.int.

Borce Manevski, Independent Media Consultant, Macedonia


Read more

The amendments to the Law on the Public Procurement (Законот за јавни набавки) are available in Macedonian language here.

The EU Country’s Progress Report for 2014 is available in English language here.

The World Press Freedom Index for 2014 of the Reporters without Borders is available in English language here.

The press release of the Macedonian Association of Journalists is available in English language here.
 



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