Bosnia-Herzegovina - Part 27

posted by julia on 2007/04/16 23:08

[ Bosnia-Herzegovina ]

Here is a report on public broadcasting in BiH by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklos Haraszti (29.3.2007). The report was prepared as a result of Haraszti's visit to Sarajevo and Banja Luka from 5 to 7 February. The visit was in connection with the decision of the Republika Srpska Government to boycott the state public television network, BHT1, by forbidding its officials from giving any statements to journalists and subsequently denying them access to a governmental press conference. Here is the introductory chapter of the report:

"The general media freedom situation in BiH is commendable. The legal framework for
the protection of freedom of expression is largely in place. Since 2002 BiH has fully
decriminalized libel and defamation. It has, however, yet to complete the reform and
unification of its three public broadcasters.

BiH has an advanced legal regime governing freedom of the media. The essential pieces
of legislation are in place. Laws decriminalizing libel and defamation have, for instance,
been in force in RS since June 2001 and in the Federation since November 2002.

The BiH media landscape is determined by the country's complex constitutional
structures, the still ongoing post-war reconciliation process, and the recovering economy.
Ethnic divisions are also reflected in the public broadcasting structure.

Since the end of the war in 1995, the international community has attempted to develop
an independent local media and the legal and institutional framework necessary to protect
and preserve that independence. A number of governments have invested significant
sums of money to support the establishment of both private and public print and
broadcast media, and related bodies, in BiH over the past decade. These same
governments, together with a number of international organizations, including the OSCE
Mission to BiH and OHR – worked on creating institutions such as the Communications
Regulatory Agency (CRA) and the Press Council, with the aim to bolster the media’s
independence from governmental and political influence.

Today the CRA is responsible for licensing and regulating broadcasting and
telecommunications, while the Press Council, a voluntary and self-regulatory body, deals
with complaints about the print press. Currently, the OHR focuses its media-related
efforts on a single media reform issue – the unification of the country’s dual entity public
broadcasters with the state public broadcaster. This will bring BiH in line with
established European practice and it is also a precondition for the signing of a
Stabilization and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union.

Overall, a high degree of media pluralism exists in the country. BiH has an elevated
number of media outlets, particularly broadcast. The experts consulted estimated the
number of broadcasters in BiH to be between 180 and 190. Some analysts consider this
excessive for a country with a market of just over four million consumers of no high
average income. The domestic press consists of six daily newspapers and 40 weeklies and

Many observers, however, identified a growing uniformity of views in the broadcast
media in RS, and ascribed the disturbing trend towards self-censorship not to legal or
financial, but to political motives.

Because RS aimed its boycott specifically at the state-level public broadcaster, and
because of the destructive role played by state-controlled broadcasters in the early 1990s
in fueling the rush to war in the region, the Representative decided to make the public
broadcasting system in BiH the focus of his report, together with the responsibilities of
the authorities with regard to public broadcasting."



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