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News 13 Apr 15

Kosovo Public TV Accused of Censorship

Journalists working for Kosovo's public broadcaster have accused its management of censorship following the controversial sacking of two union members. 

Una Hajdari
BIRN
Pristina

Sixty of the top editors and journalists at Radio Television of Kosovo (RTK) have accused general director Mentor Shala of censorship and mismanagement over the sacking of two members of the RTK Journalists’ Union.

Shala dismissed newsroom editor Arsim Halili and RTK union president Fadil Hoxha in late March for allegedly “posing a threat to RTK and causing serious damage to its image”.

 The two journalists had gone public with information about alleged irregularities at RTK, calling for the broadcaster to be “returned to the public” and to stop following a “political agenda”.

International media rights campaign group Reporters Without Borders condemned the dismissals, calling them an attempt to “silence criticism of censorship within the public broadcaster”.

“Halili and Hoxha drew attention to censorship and other practices that deserve a thorough investigation,” said Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon, calling for the dismissals to be rescinded.

But Shala rejected the allegation in a letter to the media watchdog, claiming that RTK is the “most professional broadcaster in Kosovo”.

He also claimed that the accusations made by the two RTK employees were unfounded.

But many RTK staff, including 60 of its top editors and journalists, responded by citing what they described as proof of censorship by the public broadcaster.

“We were forced to report on the results of a poll which clearly favoured a certain political party. A poll without a name, without a model and without an address, which came out on the eve of elections [last year] is not proof of professionalism,” the staff said in a statement.

They also cited an incident when a news broadcast was cut in half after a politician from one of the ruling parties was not featured, and the sacking of editor Behxhet Begu after he had featured one of the opposition parties in a talk show broadcast by RTK.

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