The European Broadcasting Union has demanded government authorities ensure the proper funding and governance of public service media (PSM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In an open letter to the government, EBU director Ingrid Deltenre said that the PSM is almost collapsing because the government has failed for many years to implement the media law and the appropriate funding model. “I urge authorities to respect and support public media rather than undermine their independence and credibility."
Under the laws adopted from 2005 to 2008, Bosnia's public service broadcasting system consists of three broadcasters: BHRT, which is a country-wide service, and two separate-entity public broadcasters, Radio and Television of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (Radio-Televizija Federacije BiH -RTFBiH), for the Federation entity, and Radio Television of Republika Srpska (Radio-Televizija Republike Srpske- RTRS) for Republika Srpska.
The public broadcasters, designed to promote cohesion and tolerance, tend to behave as rivals serving their regional parliaments. The collection of the licence fee, which is done by national telecom operators, is not properly implemented and as a result the revenues have been declining for years. A new, more adequate funding model has been discussed, but has never been adopted and implemented. As a consequence of the lack of money and support BHRT will also not be able to meet the international deadline to transform the terrestrial distribution network from analog to digital.
“We consider this a political failure, which has an impact on the prosperity and well-functioning of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” said Ms Deltenre. “The situation at BHRT is deteriorating to the point of collapse, in contravention of the Amsterdam Protocol of the EU and the ambitions of the country to join the EU. Authorities must secure proper functioning of PSM which is a prerequisite for a functioning democracy.”
The EBU’s condemnation is shared by the international community. The Delegation of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Office of Council of Europe in Bosnia and Herzegovina (OSCE) are in discussions with the EBU to decide how best to help.