16 May 2002


ARTICLE 19 criticises provisions in draft Law on the Public Broadcasting System

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legal action

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an ARTICLE 19 press release:


ARTICLE 19 today released a memorandum on the draft Law on the Public Broadcasting System of Bosnia and Herzegovina (1). ARTICLE 19 supports the creation of a national Public Broadcasting System that seeks to ensure a country wide, relevant, high quality broadcasting service across Bosnia and Herzegovina, and welcomes the draft law. ARTICLE 19 is, however, of the view that the law should be improved in key respects. The process of appointing members to the board of Governors allows for possible political interference. The law imposes unjustifiable restrictions on content while, at the same time, it provides too little direction as to the public service remit of the national broadcaster. It gives guarantees to the public broadcaster, which should apply to all broadcasters, and it fails to provide for appropriate mechanisms of accountability of the public broadcaster.

The procedure of appointing the Board of Governors of the Public Broadcasting System of BiH has a number of strengths. However, for example the rule that only the Board can dismiss its own members is a power, which could be abused. A key accountability mechanism in most countries is the requirement for the Board of Governors to place an annual report before the legislature. The draft law fails to require such a report.

The draft law states that public broadcasters have a responsibility to provide high quality, diverse, factual programming. Most of the outlined programming principles, however, are either very general in nature or even represent content restrictions. Some provisions in the draft law contain rules, which should be applicable to all broadcasters, private and public, for example, the right to protect confidential sources of information. ARTICLE 19's memorandum outlines a number of other concerns relating to provisions on commercial advertising, the right to reply, and the extremely broad scope of activities of the Public Broadcasting Service, subject to very loose conditions.

Luitgard Hammerer, Head of the ARTICLE 19 Europe Programme says: "Public broadcasting services play a crucial role in a democracy by providing plurality in public debate and innovative programming not driven by market forces. Extensive privileges and weak mechanisms of accountability for public broadcasters, however, may pose obstacles to private media initiatives, which are also a key component to a democratic media environment, and may open the public broadcasting system for abuse."

1 Copies of the memorandum are available on the ARTICLE 19 website, at http://www.article19.org/docimages/1290.doc">http://www.article19.org/docimages/1290.doc">http://www.article19.org/docimages/1290.doc


ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
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Bosnia and Herzegovina
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