Bosnian parliament approves changes to law to save public broadcaster BHRT

By bne IntelliNews June 16, 2016

The lower chamber of Bosnia & Herzegovina’s parliament, the House of Representatives, approved at an extraordinary session on June 16 changes to the public broadcasting law that should save the state-level public broadcaster BHRT from shutting down at the end of the month. The law changes now have to be approved by the parliament’s upper chamber.

In May, BHRT’s management said it will be forced to temporarily shut down all services as of June 30 as it cannot collect BAM25mn (€12.8mn) debts from the broadcasters of Bosnia’s two entities, the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska.

A few days later, BHRT faced the threat of losing its access to the services provided to members of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), including the transmission of the UEFA European Football Championship, due to an unpaid debt of CHF6mn (€€mn). EBU and BHRT reached a last-minute agreement, but the public broadcaster is still facing closure due to its serious financial problems.

According to the law changes, the state broadcasters will be financed by funds set up by the Muslim-Croat Federation and Republika Srpska, as well as by the autonomous Brcko district, daily Nezavisne Novine reported.

The money from those funds will be distributed between the public broadcasters of the two entities – FTV and RTRS – and BHRT. FTV and RTRS will get 25% of the funds each, while BHRT will get the remaining 50%. The funds will receive the fees paid for public broadcasting services.

Until the new funds start operating, the public broadcasters will be financed via fees paid by private telecommunications and cable TV operators. According to daily Nezavisne Novine, 330,000 subscribers use cable TV in Bosnia.

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