NGOs Warn of Erosion of Media Freedoms in Croatia

Total Croatia News

ZAGREB, September 26, 2018 – The House of Human Rights Zagreb and the GONG nongovernmental organisation warned on Wednesday that media freedoms at the HRT public broadcaster were being eroded by continued politicisation of programmes and exertion of pressure on HRT reporters and editors.

The two NGOs said the latest example of HRT’s unprofessional and harmful management and erosion of media freedoms was the firing of HRT reporter and editor Hrvoje Zovko, who resigned his post as the editor of the HTV4 channel over censorship and influencing of his editorial policy.

The NGOs said that they were worried that the HRT management did not investigate Zovko’s allegations, noting that the erosion of HRT’s role as a public media service had been going on for some time, and that politicisation of journalistic and editorial work clearly showed that there was a fundamental lack of understanding of the HRT’s role as a public media service in a pluralistic democratic society.

They called on the HRT management and programming council to investigate the latest allegations of censorship and violation of journalistic autonomy and called on the parliament’s Information, Computerisation and Media Committee to convene a session focusing on the state of media freedoms and the right of HRT reporters to unobstructed work.

The two NGOs said that they had reported the case to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Dunja Mijatović.

The issue of Zovko’s firing was raised in the parliament earlier in the day by Independent Democratic Serb Party (SDSS) MP Milorad Pupovac.

In the meantime, the parliament’s Committee on Information, Computerisation and Media on Wednesday decided by a majority vote not to put on its agenda a proposal to discuss the situation at the HRT public broadcaster over the dismissal of Croatian Television (HTV) reporter and editor and Croatian Journalists Association (HND) president Hrvoje Zovko.

The discussion on the situation at HRT following Zovko’s dismissal was requested by GLAS MP Goran Beus Richembergh.

The committee dismissed his proposal as well as a proposal by MOST party MP Nikola Grmoja for a discussion about the situation in the media following former economy minister Martina Dalić’s statements indicating media censorship in the Agrokor case, with seven committee members voting against the proposals and only Richembergh and Grmoja voting in favour.

“I proposed that we discuss the reasons for the escalation of the situation at HRT, the censorship of which Zovko spoke. If we as the committee will not react to a cry that censorship is being introduced at HRT and that people who warn about it are being fired, then we have a huge problem with our mandate,” said Richembergh.

Committee member Damir Tomić of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) was also in favour of the discussion on the situation at HRT, dismissing claims by other committee members that Zovko’s case was a labour dispute and insisting that Zovko’s case was about “sheer intimidation”.

Before the matter was put to vote, Tomić walked out of the committee session, telling the committee and its chair Andrija Mikulić of the HDZ as he was leaving that they “are destroying the country while invoking democracy.”

Kazimir Varda of the Work and Solidarity Party of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić, who voted against the discussion on the situation at HRT, said that Zovko’s case was a classic labour dispute.

The committee discussed reports by the HRT Supervisory Board for 2015 and 2016 behind closed doors as the reports were classified as a business secret.


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