Newly established government agency sparks controversy as critics call it a ‘black omen for free speech’

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The newly formed Rama III government has now established a new Agency for Media and Information (MIA), whose main focus is said to be the media coordination of the cabinet ministries. The director of this agency will also be the spokesperson of the Council of Ministers.

This agency will be under the jurisdiction of the prime minister’s office and its main mission will be informing the public on the government’s activities, while also conducting polls and surveys that will serve the public interest.

Another function of this agency will be the monitoring of mass media and other social networks regarding issues related to politics and government activities.

In the official report, it states that the Agency for Media and Information will also assume the duties of coordinating the activities of all ministries as well as their rapports with the press.

Another duty assumed by this agency will also be the creation of a web page and other channels of communication, where audio-visual materials will be produced and broadcasted, with the aim of showcasing the prime minister’s and different minister’s stances and the progression of their different projects.

According to the report, the director of this agency will simultaneously serve as spokesperson for the government –  and will therefore share the same position of power, as a cabinet minister.

Professor Jonila Godole, who has been recently involved with the Democratic Party, as Secretary for the issues of the Politically Persecuted, has criticized and come out against this new government agency, saying that this new move should be considered as a new ‘structure for propaganda’ that is a “black omen for free speech and the freedom of press”.

“If we have a media information agency working for the prime minister, what would the role of the Telegraphic Agency be? How about the public broadcaster, RTSH? Taxpayers cannot be paying for 3 different institutions that serve the same government and they can’t be obligated, on top of everything, to pay the costs of ERTV,” – said Godole.

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