With the decision of all cable operators to stop broadcasting all TV channels, foreign and domestic, for the first time, there is a serious threat to media darkness. In the battle between the media, cable operators and the government, the citizens are collateral damage.

Where did the problem start?

This decision of the operators, which is not precisely stated when will be enforced, comes after the new amendments to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services (AVMS), which were adopted in a highly non-transparent manner, without prior public debate, before the dissolution of the Parliament.

The law mandates that cable operators provide evidence that they have copyright to the programs they’re delivering to their customers.

There have been disagreements and problems between Macedonian channels and cable operators over this law for years. The law itself was adopted a day before New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2018. Just as inappropriate were adopted the amendments as the most important point before the dissolution of Parliament.

Government tactics ahead of the elections

The changes were insisted on by the Macedonian Media Association (MMA) for which they received political support from the ruling coalition of SDSM and DUI, whose MPs Kostadin Acevski and Artan Grubi were in favor of amendments to law.

Support was also received from Information Society Minister Damjan Mancevski, who in a statement for “Fokus” justified the law saying that “we must put an end to copyright violation, which is standard in all European countries”.

But it is symptomatic that the broadcasting stops during the very pre-election period, just as the opposition is revealing all the crimes of the government, whether through Rashela Mizrahi who disclosed Mila Jarovska’s illegal activities and then she was removed from the ministerial post, whether through Minister Nake Culev who every day reaffirms Oliver Spasovski’s ineptitude and incompetence, whether through, perhaps the most important moment, the audio tapes with which Antonio Milososki exposed the “honest Zoran Zaev” who thinks only of his own “multiethnic people”. There are many examples.

The goal of the SDSM-led government is clear, and it is not justice for national TV channels and media workers, who have repeatedly shown to what extent they do not care.

The goal is to leave the citizens completely uninformed, that is, to deliver information only to the party-controlled MRTV. The goal is for the people not to learn about all the scandals and criminals of the last three years that are being increasingly revealed.

Yesterday AVMS director Zoran Trajcevski told “Faktor” that the media agency was disappointed with the way the authorities pushed through the changes at the eleventh hour, which is not appropriate for a European Union member state.