Media ownership transparency necessary in BiH

Media ownership transparency necessary in BiH

Journalists, editors, media owners and other media stakeholders advocate for transparent media ownership and financing as well as advertising segment regulation in BiH, since these areas are not legally regulated at any level in the state, but are necessary for the improvement of media freedom.

The initiative for a legal framework that will regulate this domain was welcomed during the first expert debate titled “Seeking better regulation of the transparency of ownership and public financing of the media” recently held in Sarajevo within the EU-funded “Media and Public Reputation” project.

According to Secretary General of the BiH Journalists’ Association, Borka Rudić, this domain is not legally regulated, which leads to the disintegration of the journalistic ethics and quality of journalism as well as a degradation of the public interest function of the media companies. Programme Manager at the EU Delegation to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vladimir Pandurević, noted that, results of this project are extremely important, because there is no strategic document defining the public interest in the media at present.

Political Adviser to the EU Special Representative in BiH, Jasna Jelisić, reminded of the latest Reports of the European Commission on BiH, which indicated the need to secure the transparency of media ownership in BiH as one of the key priorities in the media sector.

“Among other things, the EC reports give a clear recommendation to BiH authorities to take this matter into consideration as soon as possible, and have stressed on several occasions that media freedom issues will also be considered when issuing the European Commission Opinion on BiH’s application for membership,” said Jelisić.

Professor at the Faculty of Political Science in Sarajevo Lejla Turčilo stressed the need to restore the connection between quality media and citizens that can recognise them.

“It is a citizens right to have access to true, objective and fair information, but also to be familiar with the mechanisms of influence of those who create that information,” emphasized Turčilo.

As it was announced by the EU Delegation to BiH, the implementing Consortium advocates the adoption of the laws with the aim to achieve EU standards, in regulating the concentration and transparency of media ownership. The purpose of adopting these legal regulations is to prevent the conflict of interest, increase the value of the media market and media sustainability, through transparent allocation of the public funds to the media.

Legal regulations should also contribute to the prevention of abuse in the pre-mentioned areas, improve media integrity, encourage lawful functioning of the media and real media pluralism, thereby contributing to democracy building. The draft laws are also to incorporate regulations on monitoring of the enforcement of the laws as well as sanction mechanisms.

The “Media and Public Reputation” project is implemented by the Consortium composed of: BH Journalists (BH Novinari), Mediacentar Sarajevo, BiH Press Council and Association “JaBiHEU”…/IBNA