Reporters Without Borders

Unacceptable call for boycott of state TV station by Serb premier

Published on Wednesday 17 March 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders condemns Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik’s call for a boycott of the state-owned federal television news station (FTV) on the grounds that its coverage is allegedly “biased and distorted.” Republika Srpska (RS) is one of two main political entities that make up Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In a confidential internal memorandum dated 3 March and leaked on 14 March, Dodik asked all of the representatives of the country’s Serbian community to ignore requests from FTV and to suspend all advertising and business links with the station.

“An economic boycott of any news media is unacceptable, but a boycott of the national TV news station by government officials is absolutely outrageous,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Not only is it a serious press freedom violation but also a flagrant breach of the 2001 Freedom of Information Act.

“Given the financial importance of state advertising and the economic problems that all the media are suffering, the economic retaliation envisage by Prime Minister Dodik constitutes a major act of blackmail. The independence of federal radio and TV must be guaranteed. FTV is not a propaganda or public relations tool at the disposal of a particular community or government.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “If Prime Minister Dodik wants to air any grievances he may have about FTV’s coverage or editorial decisions, he can always turn to the Communications Regulation Agency (RAK), which in theory has the necessary authority.”

Dodik previous called for a boycott of the national public TV station BHT1 in 2007, describing it as “politicised, malicious and totally unprofessional.”

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