20 January 2012

Alert

IPI calls for professionalisation of public broadcaster


(IPI/IFEX) - Vienna, 19 January 2012 - The process of transforming state television channels into public broadcasters has been slow and difficult in most post-communist countries, including those that are already in the European Union or are about to join. Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT) has been struggling and failing to fulfil this task.

The December 2010 law regulating the public broadcaster did not meet expectations. The theoretically non-partisan Programme Council has not been functioning as such. Its members are perceived to represent political interests. Journalists feel ignored and sidelined. The open conflict between the Council members and journalists is aired on TV. This conflict has many causes: the persistence of direct and indirect political pressure, top-down appointments of editors without professional credibility, arbitrary suspension of programs without plausible explanations, public suspension of journalists, selective censorship and an overall absence of transparency.

As a result, journalists, their professional associations and other civil society institutions stage protests, write appeals and public letters. On 22 January, Croatia celebrates a referendum on EU membership. As other cases in the region have illustrated, joining the EU is not a synonym for problem solving.

The new government, installed in December 2011, promised to address the issue. Yet, the newly appointed minister of culture, Andrea Zlatar Violic, admitted: "Among the 500 employees of the ministry, nobody is specialised in media," according to a press release published on the Croatian Journalists' Association website. Zlatar Violic spoke during a meeting dedicated to HRT problems and attended by journalists, editors, NGOs, and different professional organisations that took place in Zagreb on 16 January. While criticism abounded, the meeting ended with a joint appeal calling, among other things, for the end of political meddling, censorship and nepotism, as well as for transparency, a clear strategy and respect for professional standards.

The Vienna-based South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), a subsidiary of the International Press Institute (IPI), supports the appeal signed by the Croatian Journalists' Association (HND) and 26 other NGOs and associations demanding professionalisation of the public broadcaster and an end to political pressure and censorship.

"It is high time for the government and all relevant institutions to address the problems of the public broadcaster and create a proper legal and institutional environment for the Croatian public to receive information of public interest," SEEMO Secretary General Oliver Vujovic declared. "I remind the politicians of all political orientations that the role of media is to disseminate information in a truthful and balanced way and to respect all professional standards."

Source:

Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

Croatia
 
More from Croatia
  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Croatia

  • Freedom of the Press 2015: Croatia

    Ranked 80th in annual global media freedom report

  • Media integrity matters: Reclaiming public service values in media and journalism

    This book is an attempt to address obstacles to a democratic development of media systems in the countries of South East Europe by mapping patterns of corrupt relations and practices in media policy development, media ownership and financing, public service broadcasting, and journalism as a profession.


At this point, would publish: "Home page"
 
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.