Bosnia's public broadcaster BHRT may have to close due to enduring financial struggles, warn experts and journalists. What would this mean for the highly fragmented nation?

According to a report by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), BHRT general director Belmin Karamehmedović yesterday revealed to local news site Klix the already severe consequences of the organisation's economic plight. Due to the worsening financial situation, BHRT employees have been stripped of their health insurance and face severe delays in receiving their salaries.

The broadcaster's primary income, an annual tax of €3.8 ($4.14) paid by television owners, is proving “not enough even for a minimal existence”. Indeed, Bosnia's public electricity provider recently threatened to cut off electricity to the broadcaster, which currently owes 1.3 million Bosnia-Herzegovina Convertible Marks ($724,000) in unpaid electricity bills.

BHRT's closure would leave Bosnia the only European country without a state broadcaster. As well as leaving hundreds of staff members unemployed, the loss of the nationwide broadcaster could be the kiss of death for unity in the fragmented country, which is made up of two autonomous entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska.

“Killing off BHRT would [...] be one of the final steps towards the division of the country on entity or ethnic lines,” Media.ba's editor-in-chief, Elvira Jukić, told BIRN. “Meanwhile, the entity public broadcasters [Radio Television Republika Srpska and Radio Television Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina], which have a clearer political agenda, serve the ruling parties.”

Last week the European Broadcasting Union and the European Federation of Journalists appealed to the Bosnian government to “find a long term, sustainable solution” by working together with international institutions present in Bosnia.

 

Source: Balkan Insight

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