Bosnia’s public broadcaster faces financial collapse

By bne IntelliNews February 18, 2016

The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) said it has called for joint actions with the European Union to prevent the financial collapse of Bosnia’s public broadcaster, BHRT.

Earlier in February, Bosnia’s government extended by six months, until June 30, the old system for collecting fees for public broadcasting services. The decision came after in December, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) warned that public broadcasters in Bosnia & Herzegovina could have to close down at the start of 2016 due to a lack of funding as the authorities have failed to reform the funding model and creating a new sustainable one.

According to OSCE’s information, Bosnia’s Radio and Television (RTV) service was funded from taxes collected via electricity bills. However, the system expired on December 31, 2015 and had no replacement.

“Because of insufficient and insecure funding, its huge debts and the inability to pay its employees, (BHRT) is now in total financial collapse. This completely disables its ability to operate and fulfil its role in society,” EBU Director General Ingrid Deltenre said in the letter.

She added that urgent actions need to be undertaken to ensure the development of sustainable public service media in Bosnia.

The OSCE has criticised the Bosnian government’s failure to reform laws on the public service broadcasting system in order to allow broadcasters to continue operating. Part of the problem is due to the failure of Bosnian citizens to pay, a problem that worsened during the recent economic crisis. Many Croats in particular refused to pay, as they say they are not served by either RTV FBiH which targets the Bosniak population or the Republic Srpska’s RTRS, according to Freedom House.

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