Call for the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for urgent intervention to save media

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Sarajevo, April 24, 2020

Press Council in BiH

Call for the authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina for urgent intervention to save media

Today, the Press Council in BiH sent a letter to Zoran Tegeltija, Chairman of the Council of Ministers of BiH, Fadil Novalić, Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH, Radovan Višković, Prime Minister of Republic of Srpska and Mario Nenadić, Prime Minister of Sarajevo Canton requesting urgent intervention of all levels of government to save media. It is stated:

The Press Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina warns the authorities of the extremely difficult economic situation in which the media and media associations in Bosnia and Herzegovina find themselves due to the coronavirus pandemic, and that such a situation could have catastrophic consequences for the democratization of society as a whole.

Professional media outlets face large losses due to a lack of advertising inflows, which have almost completely disappeared, and declining circulation when it comes to print media due to repressive measures that closed 40 percent of outlets, limited movement of citizens, reduced purchasing power...

The Press Council in BiH is also currently struggling to survive.

The rapid decline in the inflow of funds directly reflects on the inability to pay salaries, salary reductions, dismissals of employees, and termination of contracts for part-time associates, which is a major blow to the independence of the media. Such a situation is already unfolding before our eyes because the survival of the media is directly in question. Professional media and organizations are trying to find a way not to reach for dismissals, but dismissals already exist and we are afraid that there will be more of them if this situation continues, without any help from the authorities at all levels.

We remind you of the unquestionable rights of citizens to truthful, verified and timely information, the importance of which has come to the fore in the current situation, when the whole world is facing the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Journalists and media outlets are making tremendous efforts, selflessly using all their resources and exposing media workers to risks to their health, to provide citizens with information that can save lives at this time.

Also the Press Council in BiH, as a tool for protecting media freedom and professional reporting, protects the public from irresponsible and unethical media reporting, which is extremely important at the moment.

We also remind you of the obligation of the state to create a framework and enable the free and independent work of the media by protecting the constitutional right to freedom of expression, collection and dissemination of information.

Therefore, it is necessary at all levels of government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to adopt urgent economic measures to save the media and media associations, because free and independent media are one of the pillars of a democratic society.

Having in mind all the above, please urgently organize a meeting with representatives of the Press Council in BiH, whose members are the largest print and online media in BiH.

Sincerely,

Board of Directors of the Press Council in BiH