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US Concerned about Public Broadcasters

U.S. -- Representative Alcee Hastings, chairman of U.S. Helsinki Commission

U.S. -- Representative Alcee Hastings, chairman of U.S. Helsinki Commission

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), today expressed concern with the current media climate in Bosnia and Herzegovina following a series of events indicating increasing political pressure on public broadcasting there.

In December Mehmed Agovic was removed from his position as Director-General at Bosnian-Herzegovinian Radio-Television, the statewide public broadcaster. This month managers removed Duska Jurisic from her job as head of political programming at Federation Radio-Television, one of the two entity public broadcasters; and last week the other entity broadcaster, Serb Republic Radio-Television, rebuffed Bosnia-Herzegovina’s communications regulator and refused to pay a fine leveled against it by the Communications Regulatory Authority.

“A free and independent media, both public and private, is a requirement for any properly functioning democracy,” Chairman Cardin said. “The current trends in Bosnia-Herzegovina would be worrying at any time, but they are a particular concern now on the eve of parliamentary elections.”

The Co-Chairmen called on all political actors in Bosnia-Herzegovina to strive to protect freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the independence of the public broadcast media.

“This year’s elections could be crucial to determining whether Bosnia-Herzegovina will continue its progress toward multi-ethnic democracy, a market economy undergirded by the rule of law, and full membership in Euro-Atlantic institutions,” said Co-Chairman Hastings. “The media in Bosnia-Herzegovina must be unencumbered so that it can contribute positively to the debate during the forthcoming campaign and beyond.”