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Council of Europe Emphasizes Need for Strong Public Service Media at BHRT Conference

19.06.2017

A recently held conference on the future of public broadcaster BHRT in Bosnia and Herzegovina, brought together international experts from the media industry and politics with the aim to prevent BHRT from closing down and to establish a plan for ensuring its continued operations.

Photo credit: European Broadcasting Union (EBU)

More than 100 participants from parliament, government, regulatory authorities, the media, the international community and the civil sector met on June 13-14 in Sarajevo to discuss the importance of Public Service Media (PSM). The conference was organized in order to prevent the imminent collapse of BHRT, Bosnia and Herzegovina's public broadcaster, which suffers from insufficient and unsustainable funding and the authorities' inability to make the necessary reforms to the media law.

EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre and Patrick Penninckx (Council of Europe) both highlighted that strong public service media are essential for the functioning and wellbeing of a country. MEP and Rapporteur for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Preda summarized the key issue as follows: “To put it simply, the idea of a future member state of the EU without public service media is unthinkable. It is as much an issue of European law as it is an issue pertaining to the democratic character of the country.”


The conference participants identified the following aspects to be vital to BHRT's future:

• The need for urgent financial help for BHRT to ensure the continuation of its operation and prevent the threat of closure.

• The need for political will and political leadership to recognize the problems and identify workable solutions.

• The need for reform to PSM, in the mid term, to ensure independent, professional and credible broadcasting.

• The need for reform to ensure stable and adequate funding for PSM and an appropriate mechanism for collecting and enforcing the broadcasting fee.

• The role of civil society in mobilizing citizens, engaging them in a dialogue about PSM and campaigning for the appropriate legal and institutional framework to allow them to fulfil their remit in accordance with European standards.

• The need to consolidate forces to overcome the current crisis.

• The need for the three PSM organisations in BiH to reinforce a common dialogue, cooperating more and using all potential synergies to produce and distribute their content.


As a concrete outcome, a list of recommendations (PDF) has been put forward which are to be implemented in the coming weeks and months. One of the more urgent measures to be implemented calls for setting up a coordination team, including Borka Rudić, Plamenko Čustović, Dara Cvijetić, Zoran Kresić and Goran Samardžić (involving the éminence grises of the media society) under the leadership of Belmin Karamehmedović and Lejla Babović, who will follow up on the implementation of the conference's recommendations.


More information about the conference is available here.



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