Dismissals at Croatian Radio Television Continue

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After Croatian Television, it seems that Croatian Radio is the next stop for the Cultural Revolution.

Purges are continuing at the Croatian public broadcaster HRT. This time, the wave of dismissals has hit the Third Programme of Croatian Radio. After Nevenka Dujmović on 20 April replaced Rajka Rusan as the editor, HRT has decided to discontinue, after 38 shows, cooperation with Hajrudin Hromadžić and Katarina Luketić, who were presenters of the Roundtable show, reports fairpress.eu on May 7, 2016.

“This is a pure censorship, silencing of all critical voices when it comes to the current ideological trends. Such a move of censorship actually only confirmed the correctness of the theses which my guests presented about the recent events at this institution, in connection with dismissals of editors, cancelling of shows, discontinuing of cooperation with long-time contributors, the clericalization of programmes, and the like. In my opinion, these examples do not indicate only the critical situation regarding the practice of censorship at today’s HRT, but also the tragicomic situation of editorial censorship when masters do not even necessarily have to be say a word for their subordinates to hear it. As long as we do not start resisting these trends which are producing a culture of fear at all levels of our social reality, we will not be able to live in a happier and more prosperous society. With the hope that we have the potential and power for something like that, I say good-bye. Good night and good luck.”

These were the words of Hajrudin Hromadžić, a professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, which he said on 2 May at the end of the Roundtable show on the issue of secular society which was broadcast on Croatian Radio. Hromadžić said that his intention was to answer questions from listeners why some of his previous shows were not subsequently uploaded to the HRT website, in particular the show about media freedom in which guests were Slavica Lukić, Nataša Škaričić and Suzana Kunac. Shortly after he aired accusations against the Croatian Radio Television, Hromadžić and his colleague Katarina Luketić were informed they would not longer have their show.

HRT did not want to comment on the decision.

Co-author and co-presenter of the show Katarina Luketić gave her reaction. “The decision about termination of our cooperation after three years was delivered by e-mail on Tuesday morning. The explanations were ‘financial reasons’ and ‘privatization of the airtime’ by Hajrudin. He concluded his show on Monday with a statement in which he explained why you could not find on the internet his show in which guests spoke critically about HRT. Hajdurin’s statement was broadcast live, so they could not prevent it from being aired. It was clear that there would be a reaction.”

In addition, Luketić explained that the problems began two months ago when editor Manuela Frkić Žaja refused to put on the website another of Hajrudin’s shows which was critical towards current Croatian authorities. “Also, my show on hate speech from two weeks ago is also not available for online listening (although the editor promised me she would put it online). You should know that the regular practice is for all radio shows to be put online for later listening, so this decisions clearly represent censorship.”

A month ago editors repeatedly insisted that she should not do a show about The Hague Tribunal and that she should find instead some “cultural topic”. “Only after I told them that I would not cover any other topic did they reluctantly agree for the show to go forward. In addition, they told us that we should adapt because the times were tough and because there was a terrible atmosphere at HRT and the new chief editor, as we found out, was particularly appalled by our show and demanded our immediate dismissal”, said Luketić.

“Our editor on 1 January became Manuela Frkić Žaja who has done what the new bosses demanded from her. Until the arrival of the new government, we were never criticized about topics and guests (although we were often critical towards the Culture Ministry and SDP’s government). The dismissal, which we ironically received on the Press Freedom Day, was caused by our political and ideological unsuitability. Unfortunately, all this is only a part of a wider purges and pressures at HRT and in other media. In my opinion, the worst is the fact that an atmosphere of fear has been created and that many editors are not resisting and defending professional standards from those who are devastating the media and cultural landscape, including current Culture Minister Hasanbegović. Instead, they adapt and voluntarily, even without pressure, implement censorship and edit their programmes in the way they think the new government would expect. When we add to this the actual decisions of the new government (suppression of independent media, dismissals, etc.), then it is clear that this is a devastation of the whole media system which we had managed to build in Croatia”, said Katarina Luketić.

Editor Manuela Frkić Žaja was unavailable to give her comment on the events.


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