The collapse of public service media (PSM) in Bosnia and Herzegovina is unacceptable. This is the conclusion of an international conference on PSM in the country, whose national public broadcaster, BHRT, has been facing huge financial problems throughout many years.
The conference took place in Sarajevo on the 13th and 14th of June. It was organised by the EBU, BHRT, the Bosnia and Herzegovina Journalist Association, the Council of Europe, the Office of the OSCE Representative of Freedom of the Media, the European Federation of Journalists and the South East Europe Media Organisation. The participants in the conference were discussing the financial, the judicial, the ethical and many other problems, that PMS in Bosnia and Herzegovina is facing. The result of the conference is 23 recommendations, which will be sent to all relevant authorities in the country and international partners in a few days, on the 19th of June 2017.
These are some of the most important recommendations:
• 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 recognise 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 Bosnia and Herzegovina to reinforce a common dialogue, cooperating more and using all potential synergies to produce and distribute their content.
Some of the main reasons why PSM in Bosnia and Herzegovina suffers from poor conditions are insufficient and unsustainable funding and the luck of will among the politicians to make the necessary reforms to the media law. One of the consequences hereby is that the broadcaster has accumulated substantial debts of around 20 million Euro over a long period. EBU Board Member Marko Filli said though, that BHRT’s debt towards the EBU is the slightest problem and that is very easy to make an agreement regarding the repayment.
The other consequence is that if PSM collapses, Bosnia and Herzegovina will become the only country in Europe without a national public service broadcaster. Filli said, that it must not happen, as PSM is a fundamental of democracy as it facilitates the open debates, which can lead to the reforms in the society.
The crisis of PSM is the reason why the country participated only once in the Eurovision Song Contest since 2012. As we are waiting and hoping for that the broadcaster soon will solve their problems and return to Eurovision, you can watch Bosnia and Herzegovina 2011 entry. Here is Dino Merlin and his Love In Rewind.