The international community is coming together in a last ditch attempt to save the Bosnian public broadcaster BHRT.
According to the EBU, it, along with 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 will host a conference today (Tuesday, June 13) at the offices of BHRT.
In a statement, the EBU says that urgent action needs to be taken to reform the media laws and secure adequate and sustainable funding for PSM or Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is likely to become the only country in Europe without a national public service broadcaster.
It adds that growing political fragmentation in BiH has worked against the existence of the PSM system in its current form and the reforms to the media law that were initially envisaged have never been realised.
Against this backdrop, BHRT has accumulated substantial debts of around €20 million over many years. Erosion of the licence fee, a weak collection system and substantial payment arrears from regional broadcast partners have left it at threat of imminent closure. The model for collecting the licence fee in BiH – through telephone bills – expired a year ago and the government have been unable to agree on a long-term solution for funding PSM.
The EBU argues that the collapse of PSM in BiH would have a devastating effect, not only on the media system, but on a society already split with ethnic divisions.
EBU DG Ingrid Deltenre said: “Strong PSM is the bedrock of democratic societies. We urge authorities in BiH to take urgent action to safeguard the future of PSM so it can play an active role in promoting and reinforcing democracy, fostering ethnic tolerance and ensuring social cohesion”.