SAT, 28 JAN 1995 20:14:52 GMT
State public competition for privately-owned media in Montenegro
Summary: How Montenegrin authorities, under the veil of alleged demonopolization of the media space and liberalization of channel allocation for electronic media, actually continue to pursue their policy of manipulating and murdering the viewers with their propaganda. Out of seven firms which had applied for television channels at the public competition of the Ministry of Industries, Power Generation, and Mining in Montnegro, the only one which got a wavelength so far was the Belgrade private tv station "Palma", although its application was at first, according to the decision of the competition Committee, also the only one of all the received applications which was - rejected. Revolted by the permit issued to "TV Palma", Montena-TV" started broadcasting its program without a permit, but was immediately warned by two Montenegrin ministries to stop doing it. "Montenegropublic" (the founder and the owner of "Monitor") fared the worst, because it was forced to apply for a tv channel again although it had once already been allocated one by the same Committee, and then, although it had offered the same amount of money as "TV Palma" - remained without it once and for all.
In pursuance of the public competition of the Ministry of Industries, Power Generation and Mining of Montenegro for allocation of radio-diffusion channels for temporary usage, i.e. for renting 16 radio channels and nine television channels, the Committee of the Ministry, headed by one of the leaders of the Democratic Party of Socialists, Pregrag Bulatovic (who is at the same time the President of the single-party Management Board of the state RTV Montenegro), received applications from "Braca Karic", "Telekom", and "Palma" from Belgrade, "Prevalitana", "Montenegropublic" and "Blue Moon" from Podgorica, and "Sky Sat" from Herceg Novi for tv channels, and "Elmag" from Podgorica, "Aniz" from Niksic, and "Panorama" from Pljevlje for radio-channels.
The competition Committee has still not reached a final decision, and as one can learn, its annulling is being considered as well as its reannouncement, which, on the other hand, does not mean that Montenegro has not acquired its first privately-owned tv station. Namely, just before New Year's eve, "TV Palma" started broadcasting, although its candidacy, by the opinion of the Committee, was the only of all the submitted ones which was rejected due to incomplete submitted documentation. The initial elimination of "TV Palma", and the subsequent decision to the contrary, reaffirmmed the belief that the Committee has other crucial criteria than those concerning the program. Namely, less than a month after the mentioned rejection, to be exact on December 28, 1994, thanks to the also mentioned head of the state Committee, Predrag Bulatovic, it was made public that "Palma" had, in fact, submitted all the necessary documentation, but a part of it was lost by the Committee, and in the meantime, recovered!
A protesting telex arrived in Podgorica immediately from "Braca Karic Telekom", demanding that the Committee annulled the competition, but in vain. The very next day, on December 29, the competent Minister from Djukanovic's Government signed a contract with "Palma" in the capital of Montenegro, and the program started broadcasting that same day, on three radio and two tv channels, one of which was expected to be allocated to "BK Telekom". But, this time, "Palma" was more solvent, and as it seems, had better connections than the Karic brothers.
The Committe also concluded that the rules of procedure adopted in October the requirements of which were fulfilled by all the candidates, should be abrogated. Similarly, the opposition firm "Prevalitana" with its "TV-Montena", also started broadcasting its experimental program on channel 54, sometime between December 31 last year and January 4 this year. But, on January 5 already, two official demands for its interruption arrived, signed by two Ministries - of industries, and of information. These demands could rather be called warnings, because they manipulated with the terms such as "criminal prosecution" and "depriving of the equipment". Therefore, "Montena TV" was closed down immediately and shelved to wait, with others, inapt and insolvent ones, for the new rules of procedure.
But, even abiding by the will of the power-wielders did not help "Montena TV" much. Namely, public utility service inspection of Podgorica sent out its workers to look for the antenna post of "Montena TV". After a few-days search, the post was found on a skyscraper downtown Podgorica, and dismantled.
The case of Podgorica "Montenegropublic" is probably even more interesting, since this firm had obtained a legally valid permit much before the said Competition, the only permit of the kind in Montenegro. Namely, the Committee now decided that the decision to annul the mentioned rules of procedure should refer to this firm too, so that "Montenegropublic" was put on the list of those who "the competent Ministry is recommended not to sign a rental agreement with". In a review of the offered amounts for renting tv channels, it was stated that "Montenegropublic" offered "the amount of the minimum compensation", which was, actually, in accordance with the new Rules of Procedure, although it was not stated how much that was (10 thousand dinars or German marks a month) and, therefore, identical with the sum offered by "Palma" for the same power (1000 W) and for the same place. In other words, "Montenegropublic" had offered the same "minimum amount' as "Palma" , and everything else as the Belgrade firm, but, that did not seem to be enough.
And therefore, while "Montenegropublic" was left without the channel it had once already obtained, and while "Montena TV" remained without its own antenna post, the antenna of "TV Palma" is still on the roof of Hotel "Crna Gora", although, according to what Podgorica agency "Montena-fax" claims, it did not even apply for a permit for its mounting, and therefore could not have got it either.
Intentions of the authorities are obvious - underneath a veil of alleged demonopolization of the media space and liberalization of regulations referring to allocation of channels, it is in fact continuing with its policy of media manipulation, keeping for itself the deed for this significant political field. That is why the state, that is, the party Committee gives a channel to a privately-owned television, and in this way justifies its alleged disclaiming the monopoly over channels, and on the other hand, by a carefully made choice of a tv station, keeps the monopoly over propagandist and impassioned biased informing. "TV Palma" broadcasts only illegally recorded films and the so-called "turbo-folk" music of the worst kind, leaving the most important informative political segment of tv program untouched for the state Television.
Igor MAROJEVIC AIM Podgorica