The absurd election for the position of HRT director-general proves the necessity of an urgent amendment to the HRT Act, for which the government of Andrej Plenković have had enough time, but they showed little interest to do it. Nine years had passed since 2012 when the parliament changed the law, and the second term of the HDZ government is currently running and the latest shameful election clearly shows that we need better regulation. The law could have been changed, but it is not! This is the responsibility of the Ministries of Culture and Media, headed by Minister Nina Obuljen Koržinek.
Professional associations cannot support the election procedure. The opposition in the Parliament complained about the process and the session of the Media Committee had to be repeated.. At the first session held on October 12, 2021, before it announced who the candidate was, two members who did not attend the session deposited their votes, which were declared valid. The claim of the ruling majority that five of the 13 members of the Committee present are enough to elect the leader of HRT is a complete revelation of the farce. After protests by opposition lawmakers, Committee repeated the session. Throughout the process, the candidate’s programs, as its most crucial part, became only a “supplement” and not the basis for further selection procedures. It is clear there is no perfect recipe for the election of the director of HRT, but the current election procedure is an embarrassing failure.
We reiterate the importance of creating a framework for building a professional and independent public service. It is enough to take a quick look at HTV’s report from the Committee meeting held on October 13, 2021, published in the central news (Dnevnik). There was no mention of the opposition’s objections to the election procedure, irregularities, and conflicts of interest of the ruling candidates. Unfortunately, that’s what it looks likes for the HTV news in 2021 ! The program that sends interview questions to the Prime Minister in advance or new recording studio paid millions of subscriber’s money where you can hear the rain during a severe storm due to poor sound insulation in a news program.
While politics is busy with elections for general manager, a real journalistic exodus is taking place in HTV. In their programs, almost all candidates spoke about news programs’ problems, censorship, self-censorship, non-transparent business, external productions, a decline of domestic, in-house production, disturbed interpersonal relations, and scandals due to sexual harassment, intimidation of lawsuits, and challenging working atmosphere. Therefore, at this very moment, it is crucial to spread the public, but also the political consensus on who will manage HRT after Kazimir Bačić.
Finally, even before the arrest of the HRT director-general, there were enough reasons for those responsible to take change the management of HRT, but they failed to take an action. In the same time, professional associations issued statements 17 times during his four-year term.
We believe that director-general must be a person who knows journalism, should not be in conflict of interest, and understands a public broadcasting program because he/she will determine the program’s direction by choosing his closest associates.
The farcical election of the director-general proved our long-standing demands for amendments to the HRT Act that would open the possibility of its business and program stabilization and ensure an independent and transparent election without evident political influence.
To make a better public television, the election of the director-general shall leave no shadows of doubt.
For the CAJ on HTV;
Sanja Mikleušević Pavić
For TUCJ on HRT;
Maja Sever, president of TUCJ