The EBU has issued a last-ditch appeal to the Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities to save public service broadcasting in their country. As the Government has been unable to solve the funding crisis for BHRT to date, the EBU has reluctantly been forced to place the broadcaster on level three sanctions due to mounting debts. BHRT will no longer be able to access any EBU services including the news and music exchanges and access to sports rights.
BHRT has accumulated debts to the EBU of over CHF 6 million over the last eleven years and, despite repeated efforts, has been unable to establish and follow a payment plan to repay any of the money.
The EBU has been actively supporting BHRT over many years in its attempts to secure sustainable funding from the government. It has been in constant contact with the Bosnian and Herzegovinian authorities - especially the Government and Parliament - to discuss the need for amendments in the law on public service broadcasting. However, the necessary amendments to the law have not been adopted, despite the many assurances and deadlines.
The financial situation at BHRT has been deteriorating over many years due to insufficient levels of funding caused by erosion of the licence fee, a weak collection system and substantial payment arrears from regional broadcaster partners. Bosnia and Herzegovina now risks being the only European country that could be without a national public service broadcaster.
BHRT has also been promised financial help from the Government to repay part of the debts towards the EBU but this support has been pending for months and is yet to materialize.
EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said: “We greatly regret that the Government and Parliament of Bosnia and Herzegovina have failed to secure sustainable long-term funding for BHRT. We know that strong public service media is essential for building democratic institutions, supporting nation building, promoting social cohesion and reinforcing democracy and democratic values.
“Unfortunately we have been left with no choice but to regretfully impose level three sanctions on BHRT to protect the financial stability of the Union.
"We will continue to work with BHRT to try and obtain sustainable funding for their critical work. We hope authorities will act now in order to save such an important democratic institution."