The new public-private partnership Media University is a joint venture of the City of Varaždin, City of Koprivnica and the publisher Europa Press Holding.
4.2.6 Media pluralism and content diversity
There has been much debate about media legislation, media pluralism and diversity in Croatia during the past ten years. This reflects a radical transformation of media and media policies. As a consequence, media laws have been changed and amended several times.
Diversity and plurality of the media are particularly promoted by the Fund for the Promotion of Pluralism and Diversity of Electronic Media, established by the Law on Electronic Media provisions that have included the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS Directive) solutions. The fund is administered by the Council for Electronic Media (VEM), and financed by 3% of Croatian Radio-Television licence fees. It supports production and broadcasting of public interest programmes in local and regional radio and television channels, who serve local communities and sometimes introduce the usage of local dialects in broadcasting (e.g., in the Istria region). A substantial interest in promoting and supporting diversity and plurality in the media also comes from the market, which has already influenced growth and diversification of the media and media programmes. With the stipulation on the enhancement of media diversity the new amendments to the Law on Electronic Media (NN 94/13) allow the non-profit media organisations to apply to the Fund as well.
Even though Croatian legislation includes regulations on quotas and responsibility of broadcasters and media owners with regard to the diversity of contents, systematic monitoring is restricted and therefore it is impossible to assess the extent to which the provisions of different laws are respected.
The number of media organisations in Croatia fluctuates constantly. According to data available on the website of the Electronic Media Agency (AEM), in 2013 there are 31 TV channels (ten with national concessions, four of them publicly owned), 160 radio stations (six with national concessions), six media-on-demand service providers, and 118 currently registered electronic publications (portals). According to the web data of the Croatian Post and Electronic Communications Agency (HAKOM) there were 91 Internet service providers (ISPs) operating in Croatia in 2013.
Croatia has successfully concluded the process of digital switchover which created space for the Council for Electronic Media to publish tenders for new licences. In September 2010 several national concessions were awarded for specialised television channels – music channel, sports channel, financial news channel and two specialised entertainment channels owned by Nova TV and RTL.
Media production in the arts, humanities, cultural history and identity is mostly broadcast on the PBS Croatian Television First Channel and Croatian Radio Third Programme (the latter completely devoted to culture). In September 2012, responding to the initiative led by the key cultural institutions and organisations, the PBS opened a new television channel (HT3) devoted to cultural, artistic, TV archive, documentary and movie programmes. The HT1 channel has also complemented its news broadcasting by devoting 3-5 minutes to cultural information. Culture has a constant share of 4% in the total radio broadcasting. While daily press covers cultural life and social / political events, a number of specialised bi-monthly magazines (e.g. Zarez, Vijenac) write extensively about art and culture. The best known specialised journals in cultural field are Kontura (visual arts), Frakcija (performing arts), ČiP, Oris (architecture), Most-The Bridge (literature), Europski glasnik-European Herald (culture and sciences), Hrvatski filmski ljetopis-Croatian Film Chronicles (film), etc. According to data from March 2013, the Ministry of Culture supported the publication of 91 programmes of local, regional or national (printed and online) cultural journals.
Anti-trust measures were included in the Law on Electronic Media (2003) and further elaborated in the new Law on Electronic Media that was passed in December 2009, as well as in general Anti-trust Laws. The question of anti-trust measures has been greatly discussed in the context of the process of joining the EU, prompted by requests to harmonise legislation with European standards. In 2011, debates concentrated around the amendments to the Law on Media and the Law on Electronic Media, which included changes regarding transparency of ownership. An amended version of the Law on Croatian Radio Television was passed in July 2012 (NN 76/12) that simplifies and improves the management structure even though this Law was criticised for a serious democratic deficit in terms of the independence of the PSB from the government. The amendments to the Law on Media in 2013 (NN 81/13) introduced changes to the penalties for law infringements that were a result of aligning the Law with the Directive on the services in the internal market.
There are specific training programmes for journalists that are organised by the Association of Journalists. There are 7 journalism regular study programmes at Croatian universities. A number of private ventures in this area has been recently enriched by The new public-private partnership Medijsko sveučilište / Media University (joint venture of the City of Varaždin, City of Koprivnica and the publisher Europa Press Holding-EPH) started its work in Varaždin in March 2013.
Together with the discussions on the role of the Public Broadcasting Service triggered by the above-mentioned changes of the law, the debates in 2012 and 2013 included discussions on the position of journalists (in print and electronic media), the quality of broadcast content in public and commercial media, and issue of financing non-profit (electronic) media. The new Programme of non-refundable support for the non-profit media was introduced on an ad hoc basis in 2013 due to freeing of funds from the Lottery Fund. Only the NGO-based non-profit media are eligible for financing from this newly established Fund, which caused a stir among other non-profit media organisations.