Bosnian public broadcasters could face collapse, OSCE warns

OSCE's representative on freedom of the media has urged the authorities in Bosnia-Herzegovina "to prevent financial collapse of public service broadcasters."

Source: B92
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They should "immediately address the long-standing issue of funding for the country’s public broadcasting system," Dunja Mijatovic has said, according to an OSCE statement issued on Tuesday.

“For far too long the public broadcasting system has faced multiple obstructions stemming from the failure to implement relevant legislation. The Council of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly must immediately find a sustainable system for funding," she said.

The statement added that the current system for collecting taxes via electricity bills to pay for the Radio and Television (RTV) service expires on December 31, and that "with no replacement system in place, the nationwide Radio and Television of BiH (BHRT), and the public broadcasters in the country’s two entities – Radio and Television of the Federation of BiH (RTV FBiH) and Radio and Television of Republic Srpska (RTRS) – face financial collapse."

“The failure of the public broadcasters to fully implement the relevant laws and the non-existent progress in the internal restructuring have also contributed to the financial instability of the system,” Mijatovic said.

The OSCE noted that during her official visit to Bosnia-Herzegovina in July, "the representative called on the authorities to ensure that the tax for RTV services is collected efficiently in order for the public service broadcasting system to be financially sustainable," while in in 2013, she issued recommendations "which remain relevant and are yet to be implemented" - to ensure necessary financial means for public service broadcasters, establish mechanisms for regular reviews of broadcasters’ financial needs, and provide public funds to enable broadcasters to operate in the digital environment.

The recommendations also stated that the RTV tax should be set following consultations with the public service broadcasters to reflect the financial means needed to fulfill the public service remit

“I am also closely monitoring the process of the appointment of the Director of the Communications Regulatory Agency, which has been stalled for many years and contributed to the uncertainty. It is essential that the process is conducted in accordance with, and with full respect of, the Communications Law," Mijatovic said.

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