Author: Mikhail Doroshevich
According to Belarusian President press service, Alexander Lukashenko signed the Law on Mass Media on the 4th of August.
The draft law passed House of the Representatives second hearings on June 24, 2008. And, in four days, on 28th of June, it was approved by the upper chambers of Belarusian parliament the Council of the Republic..
The stipulates procedures for registration and functioning of mass media and or information dessimination. It also defines legal status of mass media, relations of mass media to state organs and to other legal and physical persons, setting penalties for breach of legislation.
According to the Law, the process of registration is the sphere of Council of Ministers competence. It is stated that all registered mass media areto be included into the State mass media register. Ministry of Information is responsible for the Register.
The law provides for some innovation. President has the right to address the people on important social or political problems without prior concordance with state television and radio mass media. Unaccredited foreign journalistic activity is banned in the country. Mass media will be held responsible for "spreading unconfirmed information that can harm state or community's interests".
The new Law does not include requirement o transparency and accountability of "organizations": that means that the organizations are not obliged to provide any information to accredited journalists even If it is the information of public concern.
4 artciles concerning internet.
The first one gives definition and "global computer network Internet" is mentioned there as a means of mass media "issue publication".
Article 3 defines that Mass Media Law provisions are applicable to internet versions of conventional media.
Articles 11 and 17 say the registration procedure for internet media is established by the Council of Ministers.
However, the Council of Minister regulation on this point has not been issued. Natalia Petkevich, Deputy Head, Administration of the president, says that the regulation will be designed in case the number of internet mass media "pose the problem" and not their contents.
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