The Independent Media Commission monitors Kosovo media broadcasts and may initiate its own ex officio complaints if it believes any of its regulations has been violated. However, the IMC mainly depends on the public to bring problems to its attention by filing their own complaints.
Any individual or organization may file a complaint, and once a complaint is formally filed, the legal procedure is the same regardless of whether it was filed by a private citizen or ex officio.
What is a Complaint?
Complaints usually concern alleged violations of the terms of a broadcast licenses, Code of Conduct for broadcast media, IMC Law and IMC regulations. The most common issues of complaint are the fairness or accuracy of a broadcast program, or the interference of one broadcaster's transmission signal with another's.
Pursuing such complaints should not be confused with censorship. The IMC cannot tell broadcasters what they should or should not broadcast. The IMC regulations merely require Kosovo media to uphold European standards of professionalism. That means issues must be presented from all sides, fairly and accurately. Media must also refrain from broadcasting material that might endanger an individual's safety, or that carries a high risk of threatening public order, such as by inciting violence.
Before You File a Complaint
If you have any concerns about media behavior, first try contacting the relevant media. The best method is to telephone them first, then write them a letter. Many complaints can be settled this way without involving the IMC.
First request that the media issue its own correction or clarification of the record. If the issue directly affects your own reputation, you may want to exercise your Right of Reply and ask to directly respond to the broadcast yourself.
A clarification should be simple, factual, and short.
Give the media a reasonable amount of time to review your complaint and/or request. If the media does not agree to an adequate remedy in a reasonable period of time (such as 48 hours), inform the media that you will be filing a complaint with the IMC.
If you are still not satisfied with the media response, please write, fax or e-mail your complaint to the IMC, along with documentation of the offense, if possible. (Our contact information is listed on the right column of this page).
How to File a Complaint
Contact the IMC by phone, fax, e-mail, or visit us in person.
You will need to give us the following information:
The name of the media
The date of the broadcast of concern as well as the time of day as well.
A clear and specific statement of what violations you believe have been committed.
Note that the IMC complaints process is not prepared to deal with commentaries or statements with which you simply disagree. Our goal is to resolve issues of fairness and factual accuracy not engage in censorship.
File Your Complaint as Soon as Possible
IMC regulations require broadcasters to keep recordings of all their programming for 21 days, unless otherwise requested by the IMC. It is important for your complaint to reach us in time for us to process it before 21 days have passed since any broadcast you refer to. If it arrives too late, the documentation may already have been dropped from the broadcaster's archive and the case will be difficult to pursue.
What Will the IMC do with a Complaint?
First, the IMC will register and review the complaint for completeness. The IMC will contact the media to discuss the complaint and it may also contact you for further information.
The IMC will request relevant archive tapes from the station. If the broadcaster does not maintain an archive, it may be difficult to pursue the complaint, but the IMC can impose sanctions for the lack of an archive alone.
Once the preliminary evidence has been assembled, the IMC legal division will review the complaint to determine if the IMC Law or any of its regulations have been violated and will make recommendations to the IMC Council. If the IMC concludes a regulation has been violated, it will first seek to work out a remedy or settlement that satisfies both the media and the person or organization who filed the complaint, without the need for formal sanctions. Potential remedies include:
a clarification or correction from the media
a Right of Reply granted to the complaining citizen
a public apology from the media
If no suitable remedy can be found, the IMC will issue the media an official Notice of Violation, outlining the violations it is accused of and explaining that the IMC may impose sanctions to punish the violation.
After the Notice of Violation has been issued, the media has seven days to respond. If its response is unsatisfactory, the IMC will either issue a formal warning to the media or it will initiate legal proceedings to pursue sanctions. Unless it is very serious, a media first violation generally receives a warning. IMC may sanction broadcast media if it is proven that the broadcast media has committed any violation.
The Media Appeals Board
The Media Appeals Board consists of one Kosovo and two international judges appointed by the head of UNMIK, the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the UN. The decision of the MAB is binding and final for both the IMC and the media.
The new Media Appeals Board is in the process of being appointed in accordance with the IMC Law. The Media Appeals Board Rules of Procedure are available to the public.
The IMC Prefers Settlements and Constructive Remedies
In general, the IMC prefers to avoid these time-consuming legal proceedings by negotiating out-of-court settlements. It also prefers constructive remedies (such as investment in journalists' training), to fines. At any time during the investigation of a formal complaint, the IMC is open to discussing the possibility of a settlement. You can learn more about the IMC's handling of complaints and see a table of results from complaints and sanctions cases by visiting our page on Decisions.
Here you can send your complaint.