The Aetiology of Draft Media Law Syndrome in South East Europe

TitleThe Aetiology of Draft Media Law Syndrome in South East Europe
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Broughton Micova, S. E.
Affiliation (1st Author)Department of Media and Communications - London School of Economics and Political Science, UK
Section or WGPost-Socialist and Post-Authoritarian Communication Working Group
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodePOSF4a
Slot Code (Keyword)POSF4a
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleJournalism cultures and the public sphere
Submission ID4734

In the early 1990s, as they emerged from their communist or socialist regimes, the countries of South East Europe took what Splichal has described as a rather uncritically imitative approach to governing their media markets. This has meant often copying and pasting into law and regulation models from Western European countries and the language of EU directives. However, 20 years on some are still tweaking, correcting and generally fiddling with their laws related to broadcasting regulation, PSB, digital switchover and other areas of media sector governance. This draft media law syndrome[1] cannot justifiably be blamed on stabilisation and association, or later membership, to the EU. Most of these countries implemented the CoE’s Convention on Transfrontier Television (CTT), which was largely the same as the EU’s 1989 Television without Frontiers Directive (TWFD), in their first attempts. Since then TWFD became the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) in 2007 with minor amendments in 2010, and there were Communications on the Application of State Aid Rules to Public Service Broadcasting in 2001 and 2009, which had no direct implications for domestic legislation. So why have some countries in South East Europe spent more of the last two decades in the process of changing media laws than just getting down to the business of implementing them? This paper looks at the history of media laws in the Republics of Slovenia and Macedonia and describes how a draft media law syndrome seems present in these two cases. It undertakes a deeper pathology to investigate the symptoms and potential causes of this syndrome. I examine the events, decisions and laws that make up the individual time lines of media policy in each of these countries and compliment this with data from semi-structured interviews with key individuals involved in law making in these countries. I argue that the aetiology of draft media syndrome can be partly attributed media law being used as a tool by political elites. This appears to be a manifestation of the characteristics of polarized pluralism already identified by Jakubowicz, Bašić-Hrvatin, and others. However, the evidence also indicates that the small size of these countries is a contributing factor. In particular, the lack of capacity of market players to engage effectively with policy making complicates drafting and adoption processes. I conclude that in these two cases that draft media law syndrome is a hindrance to the development of the media markets and helps make them resistant to Europeanization. I suggest that the syndrome may be present in other countries in the region as well and that additional comparative or case study research might help us further understand the challenges to effective and efficient media policy making in this region. [1] The author wishes to thank Stoyan Radoslavov for his contribution in the development of this exact term and the conversations that helped flesh out the idea.

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