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Zoran Zaev: “The television behaves as a bigger enemy towards SDSM than the actual political enemy of SDSM, VMRO DPMNE itself”

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Zoran Zaev – the leader of the biggest and most popular opposition party in Macedonia (Social-democratic union of Macedonia), appeared as a guest in a political interview on Channel 5, generally perceived as a pro-government TV channel. His appearance on this TV channel provoked diverse reactions in the public.

This interview took place at a time of the implementation of Przino Contract,  which aims at fair and democratic preliminary election in Macedonia. His appearance on one of the three most popular TV channels according to AVMU analysis for 2014 was heavily analyzed by the media in Macedonia and also by the public. The video reached over 20.000 views in less than two hours after it was uploaded on the internet portals. Since the interview was broadcasted only once on Channel 5, people who missed it, could find it only in the social media or at the portals which had distributed it as news.

The web portal “Kurir”, one of the sympathizers of the authorities, published only segments of the interview. They put the accent on the criticism addressed to Zaev in the social networks and dismissed his behavior as “immature”.
Similarly one of the most visited internet portals in Macedonia according to “Gemius” agency – Sitel’s web page, did not published the interview but presented only critical comments of Zaev labeling them as “Comments according to which Zaev is a politician not much different than a stand-up comedian and a criminal, who has no capacity to understand the things around him”.

The portals “Press 24” and “Netpress” also known as sympathizers of the authorities came to the conclusion that Zaev offended the media once again and that “his tendencies are not consistent with his endeavor for freedom of media because he himself had been involved in their editorial politics”.

The leader of SDSM, Zoran Zaev in his interview on Channel 5 noted that “The television behaves as a bigger enemy towards SDSM than the actual political enemy of SDSM, VMRO DPMNE itself” and that VMRO DPMNE has much more frequent appearance in the media than SDSM and by that, the influence on public opinion is not equal.

“You broadcast the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski 10 times in a row from the 31st of December until the 1st of January. On the 31st of December and the 1st of January you broadcasted him twice each day; and on

the 2nd and the 3rd three times a day” – said Zaev.

To this remark, Lidija Bogatinova the editor of Channel 5, answered that even the interview itself wouldn’t have happened if there weren’t orders, given for it to take place on Channel 5. It wasn’t specified who could order the president of SDSM to be guest in the news of the national television Channel 5.

The newspaper “Sloboden pecat” sympathizer of the opposition, 2 days later ordered a questionnaire addressed to the citizens about the interview. According to this questionnaire, sent by “Rejting” (“Rating”) to 300 followers of the interview, the performance of Zaev left positive impression among people.

The interview of the opposition’s leader was also discussed in a column written by the journalist Erol Rizov from “Utrinski vesnik” . He pointed out that “Hundreds of public personalities in Macedonia who are critical of the regime and the artificiality of the Potemkin villages’ success are proscribed on these TV channels and they are not given a chance to express their opinions”. Moreover, in the column “Propaganda instead of journalism – Channel 5: Suicide in the 9th minute”,  written by Sasho Ordanoski on the blog “Proverka na fakti” (“Revision of facts”) the author pointed out that the “Macedonian propaganda “journalism” functions on remote with low batteries and broken buttons. The coherence of the regime is weakened and there are more and more propaganda failures.”
The regulation of media is one of the issues of the Przino Contract which have a direct influence on the forthcoming elections.

A hundred days before the elections, the Agency for audio and audiovisual media services (AVMU) should be restructured and a new director should be appointed. Therefore, we can expect that the agency will react appropriately to the hate spreading, the representation bias and the breaking of professional standards. There should be modifications of the personnel of MRTV (Macedonian radio and television) and MIA (Macedonian Information Agency) that should be applied no later than a hundred days before the elections – namely on the 15th of January.
“This would be impossible” said Zaev in his statement on the internet portal “Prizma”, intended for the promotion of research journalism and the collaboration between the civic sector and the journalists.

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