U.S. Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina joins the High Representative, the Special Representative of the European Union in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the EU Heads of Mission in BiH in their expressed concern over recent legislative proposals and actions that put at question the independent position and the future of the public broadcasting service in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
”The state of media freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina remains an important priority of the international community. We are disappointed to see a number of actions that seem to be contrary to democratic practices of preserving and encouraging media freedom and professionalism, announced the US Embassy to B&H”.
”As stated by our international partners in their respective letters to the National Assembly of Republika Srpska (RSNA) and Federation of BiH Parliament, the following actions raise deep concerns. The Draft Law on the Amendments to the Law on RTRS (Radio and Television of Republika Srpska), adopted by the RSNA on July 18, introduces the possibility for financing the entity broadcaster from the budget of the RS government, seriously undermining one of the key principles of media independence. In addition, such amendments are contrary to the Law on Public Broadcasting System. Another serious concern is related to the changes of the procedure for selecting the Steering Board members of the RTRS, which envisions the selection of the board members in the RSNA, and all four in the same year”.
”We have already expressed our concern with last year’s efforts to replace the entire RTV FBIH (Radio Television of Federation of BiH) Steering Board at one stroke, noting that such actions would weaken the independence of FTV. The need to harmonize the Law on RTV FBiH with the state level law, which stipulates that that the vacancy procedure is run by the Communications Regulatory Agency of BIH, remains a priority. Finally, any changes of the distribution of the marketing revenues need to be addressed at the state level, since this area is regulated by the Law on PBS”.
The US Embassy asserts that a professional, independent and unbiased media is one of the most important aspects of a democratic society and they urge adherence to these principles. Thus, the Embassy calls on the authorities of Republika Srpska and the Federation of BiH to demonstrate their commitment to ensuring long term viability of financially and editorially independent public broadcasters in BiH. The public broadcasters belong to the citizens of BiH and not to the political parties or those in power, said in a statement by the US Embassy to B&H.