New Turmoil at Serbian Public Broadcaster

On 19 March 2004, the Director General of Radio Television Serbia (RTS), Aleksandar Crkvenjakov, was dismissed and replaced by Mr. Aleksandar Tijanic. According to Culture Minister Dragan Kojadinovic, the dismissal took place because RTS had failed to respond adequately to the events in Kosovo and had continued its regular programming on Wednesday 17 March 17. However, according to Mr. Crkvenjakov, his dismissal was politically motivated and planned even before the events in Kosovo took place.

Mr. Tijanic, the newly appointed Director General of RTS, told Kurir that he decided to accept the position under the condition that Ms. Gordana Susa becomes the RTS News Editor. He said that the RTS should serve as a public service and democratic institution, and he further stressed that the government should act accordingly to provide the final legal solution for RTS, the new Board of Governors and the Broadcasting Council in line with the European media legislation.

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The representatives of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), the Working Group for drafting the Law on Broadcasting and the Independent Journalists Association of Serbia (NUNS) protested the appointment of Aleksandar Tijanic. Rade Veljanovski, Head of the Working group for drafting the Law on Broadcasting stated that the Government applied provisions of the old Law on Public Companies to appoint Tijanic, instead of the Law on Broadcasting, because of the legal interregnum. However, even the provisions of the Law on Public Companies were violated, because the RTS Statute stipulated that the Director General should hold a university degree, said Veljanovski.

Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica stated that he was “both politically and legally satisfied” with the appointment of Mr. Tijanic, adding that it was “politically smart and legally grounded solution” in regard with the events in Kosovo.

These events occur almost two years after the adoption of the Law on Broadcasting (July 2002) and several months after the Round-Table on RTSorganised in Belgrade by the IFJ with the support of the Council of Europe, in June 2003. While most of the media community supports the transformation of State broadcaster RTS into a public broadcasting institution, as stated by the law, the situation seems still blocked by numerous political and practical obstacles .

Sources : OSCE Media Digest