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news 02 Dec 16

Turmoil in Montenegrin TV Sparks 'Plot' Claims

Pro-government media outlets in Montenegro have accused the opposition - which lost the October general election - of hatching a plot to take over the national broadcaster, RTCG.

Dusica Tomovic
BIRN
Podgorica
Photo: Wikipedia/ Wing1990hk

The axed former director of Montenegro's public broadcaster, RTCG, Rade Vojvodic, on Thursday announced a lawsuit against the board that fired him amid claims in the pro-government media of an opposition plot to unseat him.

Vojvodic, who was sacked by the council that oversees broadcaster on Wednesday, said his removal was illegal and he did not break the law when he scrapped a competition for a new public TV chief.

Vojvodic was accused of rigging the competition by changing the rules to enable the candidate supported by the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists, DPS - who lacked appropriate qualifications for the job - to win.

 "It was suggested that I cancel the contest to avoid complaints and unnecessarily prolonging the process," he said, adding that everything was done in accordance with the law.

The council of the public broadcaster has meanwhile appointed an interim administration with Andrijana Kadija as interim director - the same team appointed to run the television station in the run-up to the general elections on October 16 under a pre-election deal reached between the opposition and former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

After the DPS again won most seats in parliament and formed a new government, the interim administration was removed and a new one, considered close to the party, appointed.

However, the law on the public broadcaster says the state TV chief must be hired after a public competition.

One of the disappointed candidates for the job, journalist Marko Milacic, told BIRN that the competition rules had been changed because one of the candidates favoured by the DPS had no university diploma.

Milacic said the DPS was determined to regain its old influence over the TV station after six months when it was run by an interim administration approved by the opposition.

The move to sack Vojvodic came from council member Goran Djurovic, an NGO activist, who also objected to Vojvodic’s decision to cancel the political talk show "Replika".

The council duly voted to sack Vojvodic by five votes to three.

Pro-government media outlets have since cried foul, claiming that the opposition hatched a plot to take over the station.

TV Pink M and the tabloid newspaper Informer, both branches of Belgrade-based media outlets and considered close to the ruling party in Montenegro, said Djurovic and four other members of the council planned to appoint a new management "to please the opposition and the anti-government media".

"The decision was forced, so the election losers could continue to manage and control the news and political programs in the public broadcaster," Pink M reported.

New director Andrijana Kadija has denied being part of an opposition "master plan and plot" while other members of the council have not commented on the accusations.

Milacic said the battle over RTCG was far from over and DPS would now up its pressure on the public broadcaster.

"This dismissal will mean nothing if the public allows some obedient non-professionals to take the directorial seat again," told a press conference on Thursday.

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