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EU delegation to cable operators: Respect access to info, intellectual property rights

In light of recent developments involving the Macedonian Media Association and the Information and Communication Technologies Association, the Delegation of the European Union to North Macedonia urged all relevant stakeholders to meet with the Media Regulator and settle the matter.

Skopje, 28 February 2020 (MIA) – In light of recent developments involving the Macedonian Media Association and the Information and Communication Technologies Association, the Delegation of the European Union to North Macedonia urged all relevant stakeholders to meet with the Media Regulator and settle the matter.

According to its release, the EU delegation is aware of the situation and is following the developments very closely.

“The EU Delegation recalls the importance of freedom of expression, freedom of media and access to information for all citizens,” the release reads.

“We call on the government, the TV stations and cable operators in the Republic of North Macedonia, to sit around the table, with the Media Regulator, to find a sustainable solution which respects these principles, works for all market operators and ensures implementation of intellectual property rights.”

The EU’s reaction comes in response to an announcement by the ICT Association on Thursday that cable TV operators will stop carrying all national and foreign TV stations on March 2 at midnight.

The only exception, according to their announcement, is the national public broadcaster and its TV channels (MTV1, MTV2, and MTV Parliament).

The cable operators’ original decision was to stop carrying all national and foreign stations.

It came as a result of changes to the Law on Audio and Audiovisual Media Services, which Parliament adopted before its dissolution on Feb. 16.

On Feb. 21, the cable operators filed an initiative to the Constitutional Court to rescind the provisions for being “unconstitutional.”

They alerted top officials—the President, the Prime Minister, the Parliament Speaker—and members of the diplomatic corps about the matter.

On Wednesday, the Macedonian Media Association (formed by Sitel, Kanal 5, Telma, Alsat, and Alfa), urged the cable operators to “revisit their warning” to stop carrying national TV stations due to the changes in the copyright law.

“The announcement of the cable operators A1 and Telekom saying it will remove all channels from their telecommunication networks is absurd,” MMA president Atanas Kiracovski told a news conference.

“We vouch for [owning the] copyrights 24/7,” Kiracovski insisted.

“We are,” he continued, “in the midst of a delicate situation, with the government asking us to air public service announcements about the coronavirus [at a time] when the country may get a date to start negotiations with the EU next month.”

Meanwhile, the EU delegation, in its release Friday, wrote that it stands ready to provide further technical help towards a more reliable legal framework and consistent enforcement of rules for all relevant media-sector stakeholders. mr/

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