Can the public find out who owns the media through free access to the essential information required?
The public in Macedonia are able to find out who owns broadcast media via the ownership reporting obligations under the Law on Broadcasting Activity. All the essential information outlined above must be disclosed to the Broadcasting Council and made public via its website. Macedonia is unusual in banning silent shareholders of broadcasters (ie secret ownership or ownership by proxy): this means that all beneficial shareholders must be declared. The same law also requires broadcasters to report ownership information directly to the public but this is much more limited information and doesn’t include those with indirect interest, significant control or the size of the shareholding.
Print and online media are only required to report ownership information under corporate laws. In contrast to the Law on Broadcast Activity, the Law on Trade Activity permits secret ownership or ownership by proxy but does not require this information to be entered into the Trade Register. This information is not, therefore, available to the public, meaning that the real owners of these companies cannot be ascertained.
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