Monday, 30 November 2020
Nina Obuljen Koržinek Nina Obuljen Koržinek

Readers’ comments under online media articles could be a thing of the past in Croatia

By  Oct 27, 2020

The Minister of Culture and Media, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, expects that the proposal for a new Law on Electronic Media will be presented at the Government session in two weeks. After that, the legal proposal will be sent to the Parliament.

“The draft bill passed a public consultation that lasted until March 5 and due to the circumstances caused by the pandemic was not sent earlier for further procedure. The proposed Law on Electronic Media will transpose the provisions of the revised Directive on audio-visual media services regarding the changing situation on the market into the national legislation of the Republic of Croatia” stated the Ministry of Culture and Media reports, reports Jutarnji list.

The proposed law is very unpopular with the public, especially media houses, but in the process of public consultation during which more than 600 remarks were made, i.e. proposals to improve the law, of which many proposals were rejected in their entirety. Some of them were crucial for media publishers.

“The proposed new Law on Electronic Media differs significantly from the current one, and in general the Association of Newspaper Publishers of HUP estimates that it makes the work of providers of electronic publications significantly more difficult. This actually jeopardizes the freedom and independence of the media, which is their primary task in accordance with the provisions of the Media Act. The Law on Media prescribes what media freedom means, what is the role of the media and what are the limitations of the media. These restrictions have been significantly tightened with this proposal to amend the Electronic Media Act. Publishers see the biggest problem in prescribing publishers' liability for comments. Namely, for the first time, the publisher's responsibility for readers' comments is explicitly prescribed, which could consequently lead to lawsuits for damages regardless of the provisions of the Media Act,” - say in the Association of Newspaper Publishers.

Namely, Article 93 of the Law on Electronic Media proposes "the responsibility of the provider of electronic publications for the entire content, including that generated by the user". In other words, editors and media owners can also be punished for a comment, for example, for comments that incite violence, which are published below journalistic texts on portals, and most often by anonymous persons.

Boris Trupčević, president of the executive board of the association, adds that "when it comes to the responsibility of publishers for readers' comments, domestic publishers in the domestic market are placed in an unequal position in relation to global Internet platforms."

“Local participants are asked to practically find a solution to problems that even global giants fail to solve. Paradoxically, the outcome of such a solution could be a ban on commenting and indirect additional strengthening of global platforms,” says Trupčević.

 

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