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Macedonian Government stops airing public campaigns in commercial media

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The Macedonian Government has announced on that it is suspending all media campaigns aired or published in commercial media. The decision was announced on Wednesday by Information and Public Administration Minister Ivo Ivanovski at a discussion with the Macedonian Journalist Association (ZNM), which has often criticized the concept of airing Government campaigns in the commercial media.

“This means that all Government run institutions will immediately stop informing the public through commercial media outlets”, Minister Ivanovski said.

The campaigns would often include public announcements, like explanations of new laws and regulations. Some of them were values driven, such as campaigns to promote family values or inter-ethnic tolerance.

ZNM and the opposition parties would complain that the campaigns influence media editorial policy, with the content or with the money the media outlets receives. Sums spent on the campaigns are debatable. ZNM President Naser Selmani claims they run in the millions.

“In 2012, the Government was the main customer of media space, and in 2013 it was second. In 2012, it spent 6,6 million EUR, and in the first six months of 2014, 4 million EUR were used for media campaigns”, Selmani said.

Zoran Trajcevski, who leads the Agency for Audio and Audio­visual Media, said the actual numbers are much lower.

“The cost is calculated according to the prices listed by the media, but in reality the contracts are signed under heavy discounts”, Trajcevski said.

Representatives of TV stations, who have also disputed the figures used by Selmani, left Wednesday’s debate in protest.

A recent report, prepared by a group of experts on behalf of the European Commission, requests strict regulation of Government advertising in the media. The Government is carrying out a plan to address the recommendations made in this report.