Bosnia & Herzegovina: BHRT in fear of a complete shutdown!

Bosnia and Herzegovina, a once-thriving at Eurovision Balkan country, has been absent from the Eurovision Song Contest for the past eight years. In fact, the country’s absence is due to EBU sanctions imposed on BHRT for failing to meet its financial obligations. Meanwhile, BHRT has been stating for years through its officials that the broadcaster is experiencing financial difficulties due to a lack of funding.

All of the above is correct, and it appears that the situation is serious enough to necessitate a complete shutdown of BHRT.

The problem on the distribution of funds

The problem lies on the distribution of the Radio and Television tax between broadcasters inside Bosnia and Herzegovina. Radio Television of the Republika Srpska (RTRS), which has had a special agreement on the collection of Radio and Television tax since 2017, does not transfer a single BAM(Bosnian currency) to BHRT.

Hence, the entity broadcaster violates Article 23 of the Law on Public RTV Service and illegally accumulates money from the RTV tax on its account that does not belong to it, leaving BHRT in the red, despite the fact that the Federal Television program depends on BHRT fulfilling its obligations.

Along with RTRS, the Radio Television of the FBiH (RTVFBiH) does not pay any funds to BHRT. In fact, BHRT rents its premises to RTVFBiH and provides it with studios, cameras and technical expertise in order to produce the program.

With RTRS and RTVFBiH collecting illegally money and BHRT being in the red, people are worrying about the worst-case scenario, a shutdown, since it can no longer perform its function.

Is there a solution?

The current contract on the collection of the Radio and Television tax, the distribution of which is threatening the operation of BHRT, was in force till December 31, 2023. A new direction has to be drawn, leading to a financial sustainability of BHRT. The solution, according to BHRT, is that the Radio and Television tax money is paid into their account, and they guarantee a more equitable distribution than before.

A new law on the Public Television Services is being advocated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in order to benefit the Bosnian Television and save BHRT. According to Edin Forto, the Minister of Transport and Communications:

What I repeat and what is very important as a state minister, it is very important to know that, the financial sustainability of the Public Broadcasting System is one of the 14 priorities of the European Commission. We must treat it as important as any other law that is listed in those 14 priorities. The sustainability of the RTV public service in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that’s why I advocate that, as it is written in the state law on public service, that all funds be paid on a single account, and we will insist on that. Of course from both entities, and then that in in accordance with the law, they distribute those funds as it is written in the law, as much as it goes to whom.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a long way to go before it can combat corruption within the state, become more modern, and operate in accordance with European standards.

It is also worth noticing that Bosnia and Herzegovina is the only country in the whole continent of Europe that does have a digital signal, seven years following the conclusion of the first phase of digitization.

Hopefully, this new law will aid in better fund distribution and, as a result, save Bosnia and Herzegovina’s public broadcaster from closure. The sustainability of its public television service is also critical to the country’s admission to the European Union.

Bosnia and Herzegovina last participated at Eurovision back in 2016 with Dalal, Deen, Ana Rucner and Jala and the song “Ljubav je”. Along with the country’s last appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest up to this day, it was also Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first non qualification.

Stay tuned to EurovisionFun for all the news!

Source: sarajevotimes , BHRT
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