Public service media in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) has signed an agreement with the electric company Elektroprivreda – JP EP on the collection of TV license fee through the electricity bills starting this month. With this agreement, the Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT) will be provided with a steady income of independent funding and will be able to start investing in new technology and programming. The other domestic electric companies will be offered the same contract and the BHRT expects a positive outcome.
The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) along with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) welcomes the agreement, especially since the previous model for collecting the license fee in BiH expired over a year ago, with the government unable to agree on a long-term solution for funding BHRT. Since then, it has consequently been under threat of collapse due to insufficient, unsustainable funding and the authorities’ inability to make the necessary reforms to the media law.
In June, more than 100 participants from parliament, government, regulatory authorities, the media, the international community and the civil sector met in Sarajevo to discuss the public service media in Bosina-Herzegovina. EFJ Broadcasting Expert Group member from Spain Paco Audije as well as EFJ affiliate, the Bosnia-Herzegovina Journalists’ Association (BHN), had been actively involved in this conference.
The participants adopted a series of recommendations, which were sent to the national authorities and the international community.
Even though the recent agreement with Elektroprivreda is a step closer to sustainable funding, the EFJ highlights the need for a long term solution and calls on the government to repeal the outdated media laws and help repay BHRT’s debts which stand in the region of 20 million euros. Without it, the BHRT’s future remains uncertain.