Montenegro: Protest against govt pressure on state TV

June 6, 2018 | Media and Politics

Media associations say that the proposed dismissal of public broadcaster RTCG’s director and editorial team show a clear intent to influence the independence of the public broadcaster.

Source: BalkanInsight

Journalists Protest ‘Govt Pressure’ on Montenegro State TV

By Dusica Tomovic | BIRN Podgorica

Montenegrin journalists, media associations and NGOs will protest on Thursday in Podgorica as the managing council of the public broadcaster is set to debate and vote on the dismissal of RTCG’s director and editorial team.

For months, RTCG has been under huge pressure after a new editorial team that started work in March 2017 distanced itself from the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists party and tried to produce more balanced content.

Now, with the expected dismissal of director Andrijana Kadija and some of the station’s editors, Montenegro’s veteran leader Milo Djukanovic's party could regain his influence, journalists’ associations believe.

Montenegrin media organisation the Media Center said that the political pressure by the ruling party on the national public broadcaster began in March, when two members of the managing council who came from NGOs were replaced by two believed to be close to the ruling party, aimed at putting RTCG back under political control.

The Media Center said that in the past 17 months, since the new director took the post, RTCG has shown that it can function as a genuine public service, equally remote from the authorities and the opposition.

“The RTCG has shown in the previous, short period that it is necessary and possible to work in the public interest, not only the authorities’ interest,” it said.

“If you do not want to manipulated by the hiding of information that is in public interest, if you do not want a party television station, join as at the civic gathering on Thursday,” it added.

The management appointed in March 2017 tried to distance itself from the ruling party and produce more balanced content, but civil society organisations now fear those gains will be lost.

The changes come as RTCG’s output has just started to become less politically biased, and after it set up an investigative journalism section.

Based on the composition of the nine-member managing council, the motion to dismiss RTCG’s director is likely to pass on Thursday.

When the council meeting was announced on June 1, the US embassy in Podgorica said it was following developments with Montenegro’s public broadcaster, adding that media freedom is a key to Montenegro’s Euro-Atlantic and EU aspirations.

The Montenegrin Journalists Association on Wednesday also called on journalists to join the protest in front of the RTCG building in solidarity with colleagues at the public broadcaster who it said were working under “tremendous political pressure”.

“The inappropriate political influence of government on the RTCG Council and the editorial board has created an atmosphere in which it has been difficult for reporters and editors to do their jobs professionally,” it said.

http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/montenegrin-journalists- to-protest-state-pressure-on-public-broadcaster-06-06-2018