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General rapporteur on media freedom seriously concerned by the risk of closure of the Bosnia-Herzegovina public service broadcaster

Mogens Jensen (Denmark, SOC), General Rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on media freedom and the protection of journalists, today expressed his serious concerns about the risk of closure of the Bosnia-Herzegovina public service broadcaster (BHRT). The difficult situation is due to a financial crisis provoked by the failure of the public broadcaster in the Republika Srpska to pay BHRT the percentage of revenues from the licence fee collected in the country. This makes it impossible for BHRT to meet its obligations towards the tax authorities and other institutions.

“The closure of the Bosnia-Herzegovina public service broadcaster would be an extremely negative development: over 800 journalists and staff working for the BHRT could lose their jobs imminently and the public would lose an important source of reliable information. To save money, BHRT has already been obliged to lay off many employees”, the rapporteur specified.

“We should keep in mind the indispensable role that public service media play in society by promoting pluralist democratic debate and by addressing all social categories and minorities. Public authorities must guarantee to the public service media appropriate funding to ensure its editorial independence and institutional autonomy”, added Mr Jensen.

"I join the European Federation of Journalists, European Broadcasting Union and the South East Europe Media Organisation in their call on the government of the Bosnia-Herzegovina and all relevant responsible bodies to find an immediate solution to BHRT’s financial crisis, and to guarantee the long term sustainability of its funding”, concluded the rapporteur.