Sarajevo, December 17, 2021 – The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association gives full support to the Independent Trade Union of Workers of BHRT in their requests for urgent solution of numerous problems that endanger the existence of employees of this public service, as well as future work of BHRT.
Earlier this week, BHRT employees held a warning protest regarding the blockade of BHRT accounts, which made it impossible to settle workers’ incomes, completely endangered the already difficult work and functioning of BHRT, and jeopardized the existence of hundreds of workers and their families. This situation is a consequence of the decision of the RTRS management to stop paying RTV fees to the joint account of BHRT, which is a violation of the Law on Public RTV System, and which is why BHRT now demands more than 54 million BAM from RTRS based on collected RTV taxes in Republika Srpska.
The Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association emphasizes that the non-payment of the RTV fee to the joint account is a political decision of RTRS and economic blackmail that cannot be justified and tolerated in any way. Due to mutual political games and representing the interests of different centers of power, employees of BHRT, but also the entity public services – RTRS and Federal Television, have never been in a more difficult and uncertain position. Low incomes of workers, debts for contributions, outdated equipment, inability to buy media rights are just some of the problems that public services are facing, which ultimately results in poor quality program content offered to viewers.
Of particular concern is the fact that from the beginning of 2022, most of the territory of BiH will remain without receiving the analog terrestrial signal of BHT and FTV. BHRT is thus slowly losing the epithet of public service because it will no longer be able to cover 95% of the territory of BiH, which is their legal obligation, and employees working at these stations are justifiably worried about their jobs.
We remind that the establishment of a system of stable financing of public services in BiH is one of the 14 priorities that BiH needs to meet on the road to membership in the European Union. The latest report from the European Commission for BiH states, among other, that “three public RTV services are still exposed to political influence, especially through politically controlled boards, with a worrying trend of self-censorship”, and that the state still does not have an appropriate model for charging RTV fees, as provided by law.
The Steering Committee of BH Journalists warns that the management of public services must stop working in the interest of politics, and start working in the interest of the citizens of BiH and their employees! We call on the representatives of the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as representatives of the international community, to urgently engage in solving these problems and prevent the survival of public services from being jeopardized, as well as enable their employees to work with dignity in an economically stable environment.
Steering Committee of the BH Journalists Association