ETHICAL CODE FOR BROADCASTERS is the first document of the kind in Yugoslavia. It is in accordance with Federal and Republic Constitutions, but it more than a simple legal text; it is a list of standards and rules of conduct SUGGESTED BY JOURNALISTS, which would be, hopefully, APPLIED BY JOURNALISTS in electronic media.
Text of the first Code was defined in February 2002, but as seen in the countries with longer experience in democracy, it would be amended and supplemented in accordance with the change of circumstances in the country and development of the professional awareness.
Task force had the following members: Aleksandar Arsenijevic, Radio Ozon Cacak; Alesandra Raskovic, ANEM; Aleksandar Timofejev, TV B92; Dubravka Valic, Novi Sad `s School of Journalism; Milica Lucic Cavic, the president of Independent Journalists Association of Serbia; Nebojsa Spaic, RTS/Radio Belgrade 202; Nenad Stanojevski, Radio 021 Novi Sad; Stela Jovanovic, NTV Nis; Veran Matic, RTV B92.
Gwyneth Henderson and Bob Jobbins, Media Consultants from Great Britain and Mario Oetheimer, Program Advisor in the Media Department of Council of Europe were included in the formulation of the final version.
Since the change of power in Serbia on October 5, 2000 and the beginning of democratic processes, media have paid more attention to media regulations, which is, among other things, consequence of uncertainty in face of upcoming frequency allocation process. Statistically speaking, more than 3 stations would compete for one frequency, that is, channel.
The starting point for ANEM and Council of Europe was the assumption that survival of stations was important, but that it was equally important to determine professional standards within which media would operate.
Process of formulating the Code started in June 2001 with a workshop, in which around 30 journalists worked on 3 groups of topics - Individual journalist `s responsibility, Diversity and portrayal, Government, politics and politicians.
Editors-in-chief of twenty ANEM stations were invited, as well as the editors-in-chief of RTS, PINK, YU Info channel, Politika, BK, IJAS and Media center. Eventually, only BK and RTS had enough courage or understanding to participate.
The facilitators were Richard Ayre, editor of the latest edition of BBC Editorial Guidelines and recently retired Deputy Director of BBC News, Malcolm Balen, Head of News for the London News Network, with previous experience with the BBC and Channel 4 News and Petko Georgiev from Bulgaria, an experienced journalist with a long record of work in radio and television.
It took 8 months to write this Code. Many journalists have thought about its issues and have been involved in its creation, however, it still remains to be verified by a large number of professionals who still have not read it and expressed their opinion.
ANEM, with the support of Council of Europe, was the organizer of the process, but it was emphasized at the very beginning that this was not ANEM `s Code, but a document which should be adopted by all electronic media in the country. In the same way that the possibility to participate in the creation of the Code was offered to all radio and TV stations equally, through participation in workshops and public discussion, the possibility of text improvement belongs to all stations.
With the recommendation to media to adopt this document, there is also a message at the end of the Code that "it should form the basis for the training of all workers in the electronic media, and should underpin the media `s accountability to the audience and its responsibility to serve the interests of all sections of the community".
The existence of such a text represents, if not the beginning, then certainly a significant step toward the stage where a need for terms "independent" and "professional" journalism would cease to exist and journalism would only be - journalism.