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The main broadcasters in Bosnia’s Federation and Republika Srpska entities are under the thumb of big parties, Bosnia’s Association of Journalists has complained.
“Federation TV [FTV] and TV Republika Srpska [RTRS] are under total political control,” said Borka Rudic, secretary general of the Association of Journalists, on World Press Freedom Day.
“In the Federation it is the Social Democratic Party [SDP] [that is in control] and in Republika Srpska it’s the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats [SNSD], she added, referring to the two main parties in question.
“Those two parties have the control over public broadcasters.”
The law on public broadcasters needs changing so that parliament is not obliged to elect members of supervisory boards from Bosnia’s three constituent ethnic groups, Bosniaks, Croats or Serbs.
Instead it should be allowed to choose people who are professionally qualified for those positions, the press conference heard.
“Only a few of the media are trying to be professional,” Rudic added, addressing the question of whether the media in Bosnia is free. “And those are online media, which are like an oasis and where you can get a variety of information.”
Ljiljana Zurovac, director of the Press Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told the same press conference that public broadcasters were supposed to serve the interests of citizens who pay for their work, not politicians.
“We do not even conceal which party has most influence on which public broadcaster,” Zurovac said.
“It is important that we are all aware of the return of hate speech in the media and can make a distinction between that and freedom of speech.”
Recent research by the Association shows that people are losing faith in media, especially in the Republika Srpska.
Only 18 per cent of 500 respondents said they thought journalists in public broadcasters follow professional standards.
Rudic said a growing number of people feel that freedom of the media is declining and that the free work of the media is hindered by politics and financial obstacles.
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