Threat of Closure of the Public Broadcast Media Service

Update: 10 Aug 2017 No state reply yet
Year 18 Apr 2017 Country Bosnia and Herzegovina Category Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom Source of threat State Partner EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Alert level Level 2
18 Apr 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina Other acts having chilling effects on media freedom State EFJ/IFJ , AEJ , Index , RSF Level 2
No state reply yet

The Radio and Television of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BHRT) is facing possible shut down due to the absence of an agreed plan for sustainable funding of public media service. The BHRT, which is marred in financial difficulties including debts to staff and to service providers such as the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), has been operating a heavily reduced service since June 2016, only broadcasting sports competitions and reruns of old programmes. The EBU reportedly has launched a lawsuit for payment of debts accumulated to unsustainable amounts and placed BHRT under sanction 3, stopping its services to the public broadcaster. BHRT is now under heightened risk of closure.

Updates

10 Aug 2017 : In August 2017, the Radio and Television of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BHRT) signed a deal with electric company Elektroprivreda – JP EP, establishing from that month onwards the collection of TV license fees through electricity bills. The agreement will be offered to other domestic electric companies as well, thus filling the gap that was left by the expiration in 2016 of the previous model for collecting the license fee.

Follow-ups

16 Jun 2017 : CoE Commissioner for Human Rights says that greater efforts are needed to enhance social cohesion and media freedom in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
02 May 2017 : The CoE Commissioner for Human Rights details the prerequisites for well-funded and strong public service media.
18 Apr 2017 : OSCE Freedom of the Media Representative says that shutdown of public broadcaster in Bosnia and Herzegovina is neither a solution nor an option

Relevant CoE instruments Disclaimer

15 Dec 2016 : Recommendation CM/Rec(2012)1 of the Committee of Ministers to member States on public service media governance (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 15 February 2012 at the 1134th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

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20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Mehmet Altan’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Altan’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Altan’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.

20 March 2018

On 20 March 2018, the European Court of Human Rights issued its Grand chamber judgment on Şahin Alpay’s case. The Court found there had been a violation of Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) and a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention for Human Rights. With regards to article 5 §1, according to the Court findings, “Mr Alpay’s continued pre-trial detention, after the Constitutional Court’s clear and unambiguous judgment of 11 January 2018 (…), could not be regarded as ‘lawful’ ”. The Court held that “for another court to call into question the powers conferred on a constitutional court to give final and binding judgments on individual applications ran counter to the fundamental principles of the rule of law and legal certainty, which (…) were the cornerstones of the guarantees against arbitrariness”. Under Article 46 (binding force and execution of judgments) of the Convention, the Court held that it was incumbent on the respondent State to ensure the termination of Mr Alpay’s pre-tria detention at the earliest possible date. Under Article 10, the Court held in particular that “there was no reason to reach a different conclusion from that of the Constitutional Court, which had found that Mr Alpay’s initial and continued pre-trial detention, following his expression of his opinions, constituted a severe measure that could not be regarded as a necessary and proportionate interference in a democratic society”. The Court pointed out in particular that “criticism of governments and publication of information regarded by a country’s leaders as endangering national interests should not attract criminal charges for particularly serious offences such as belonging to or assisting a terrorist organisation, attempting to overthrow the government or the constitutional order or disseminating terrorist propaganda”.
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