ZAGREB, November 5, 2019 – Croatian Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek said on Monday that a draft bill on electronic media would be put to public consultation in two to three weeks and that she believed that it would contribute to “preserving the diversity and sustainability of the Croatian media.”
The minister made the statement at the opening of a two-day international media conference called the South East Europe Media Forum (SEEMF).
Obuljen Koržinek said that during work on the bill, information was collected primarily on the state of electronic media but that problems were also identified regarding the revenues of print, local and non-profit media.
She noted that Croatia’s presidency of the EU would focus, among other things, on the issue of media in a changed media environment and the role of Croatian Radio and Television (HRT) as the public media service.
“It is crucial to ensure the attained level of autonomy in relation to sources of financing because the HRT subscription is constantly questioned,” the minister said.
Obuljen Koržinek described professionalism as the main challenge for the HRT. “We have been witnessing a long-lasting erosion of professionalism, not only at the HRT but on the entire media scene,” the minister said, underlining the need for independence from any political influence.
“As for guidelines and priorities that we consider important in the further development of our media policies, emphasis is put on improving the quality of the media. It is clear that without free and independent media, a society is neither free nor democratic,” she said, adding that currently everyone was faced with a flood of fake news and misinformation.
Journalists who attended the first discussion held as part of the conference pointed the finger at the incumbent government, “as one of the most non-transparent governments, lacking the minimum respect for media, media freedoms and reporters’ questions.”
“We don’t want anything from the government or the ministers, we must fight for our freedom on our own. But what we do expect of the government is to not sabotage us, arrest us, sue us and financially destroy us,” said Index website reporter Ilko Ćimić, describing the situation at the HRT as a “disgrace for the entire country”.
Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president and HRT journalist and editor Hrvoje Zovko said that print media reporters were currently in the most difficult situation due to pressure from their managements. He also said that there was a large number of lawsuits against journalists.
“What is happening with the media in Croatia is a disgrace for the EU as well. We live in a country where you can be convicted if you publish true information. The government’s fight against fake news is bizarre because that same government generates the fake news is it fighting against. The incumbent government, headed by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, acts irresponsibly and is the main reason why reporters are described as the cause of all problems,” said Zovko.
The 13th edition of the SEEMF focuses on the future of public broadcasting and print media in Southeast Europe, with emphasis on financing, autonomy and new business models.
More than 300 journalists, editors, executive directors and media owners, media experts, spokespeople and members of the academic community are attending the event.
The SEEMF is organised by the South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) in cooperation with the German Konrad Adenauer Stiftung and the Central European Initiative and in partnership with the South East and Central Europe PR Organisation (SECEPRO), the International Academy in Belgrade and the International Institute – International Media Center, Vienna, SEEMO says on its website.
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