The BH Journalists association condemned the “inadmissible” interference of the Serb member of Bosnia’s tripartite Presidency, Milorad Dodik, in the work of BiH’s public broadcaster, BHRT, arguing that it represents direct political influence on state media.
According to Dodik’s office, the Presidency member met with the director of the BH Radio1 program, Pejka Medic, to discuss “the status of journalists and all employees from Republika Srpska in this media outlet”, BH Journalists said.
It says that Dodik concluded that the BHT program which was broadcast on the occasion of the country’s Independence Day was “one-sided, absolutely shameful and directed against the Serb people, especially bearing in mind that this program was not implemented within the Information Program and with the consent of BHT Collegium members.”
Dodik announced that he would demand the responsibility of those “who approved and participated in the realisation of such a program”, and he reiterated that BHRT, as a public service, must reflect the interest of all peoples in the country “because its functioning is financed also by Serbs from Republika Srpska”.
According to Dodik’s cabinet, Medic then informed Dodik about the “national imbalance since the founding of BHRT, the status of employees from Republika Srpska entity and the pressures they are exposed to.”
According to BH Journalists, the “superficial” assessments of the Serb member of the Presidency of BiH about the BHT program being “directed against the Serb people” not only “deepen divisions in society, but also confirm the perception of citizens that the three public broadcasters have for years been under the direct political influence of national leaders and politicians.”
The association also said that Dodik’s statement that the work of BHRT is “financed by Serbs from Republika Srpska” is false, arguing that BHRT is currently seeking at least 60 million Bosnian Marks from the public broadcaster in Bosnia’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, which the RS public broadcaster “keeps in its budget contrary to the provisions of the Law on the Public Broadcasting System of BiH.”
“The Steering Committee of BH Journalists emphasizes that if Milorad Dodik and Pejka Medic really want to work on strengthening BHRT as a public service of all peoples and citizens in Bosnia and Herzegovina, they should call on RTRS as of today to start fulfilling its legal obligations to BHRT, and together insist on the complete independence of all public broadcasters, depoliticization of the work and the elections of management boards and management, as well as the establishment of an efficient model for collecting RTV fees,” BH Journalists said.