Croatian Journalists Society Protests against Dismissal of HRT Presenter

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The presenter of the most popular political debate program was removed after a show about Croatia’s football boss Zdravko Mamić.

The branch of the Croatian Journalists Society (HND) at the Croatian Radio Television (HRT) issued a statement sharply protesting against the dismissal of journalist Domagoj Novokmet as the editor and presenter of the “Otvoreno” political debate program. The dismissal followed a show titled “Corruption in Sports”, reports on June 15, 2017.

“The swift dismissal of Novokmet represents a dubious reaction of HRT’s program leadership. According to HRT’s procedures, people who have now punished Novokmet had the opportunity and authority to react in time and not allow the broadcast to go on if they thought that not all guests needed to discuss the topic had been invited”, said the HND.

HND is fully committed to respecting the principles of protection of professional standards, which include credibility and impartiality in reporting, but Novokmet’s dismissal, they say, once again demonstrated an “adaptable” understanding of responsibilities at Croatian Radio Television.

“Namely, the senior editors had a list of guests invited to the show, but nobody wondered why there was no representative of the Office for the Suppression of Corruption and Organised Crime (USKOK), which was the reason for the harsh punishment of Novokmet after USKOK publicly reacted. Therefore, his dismissal, following an open letter sent by USKOK to HRT, can be interpreted not just as pressuring the media, but also as a highly hypocritical measure of sanctioning only certain journalists and editors at HRT, while others may severely violate fundamental ethical and professional principles without punishment,” said the HND branch.

“We also note that the representatives of USKOK did not want to comment on the case when asked by journalists who attended the trial in Osijek, which was the subject of the show. Also, in its open letter, USKOK did not request a correction of any inaccurate information said during the show, and today they refused an invitation from HRT to discuss this issue publicly. Given all this, and considering the fact that there are other mechanisms to punish possible omissions, the question remains why this case was punished so drastically, and also, what about the responsibility of all the others who are part of the editorial hierarchy,” said the HND branch, represented by its President, Sanja Mikleušević.

Novokmet was dismissed after USKOK protested for allegedly not being invited to take part in the debate show, which featured several people close to Zdravko Mamić, Croatia’s football boss, who is currently being tried in Osijek for possible financial irregularities.

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