EFJ Condemns “Political Coup” Over Control of Serbian Television

Media Release
12 October 2007 

EFJ Condemns “Political Coup” Over Control of Serbian Television

Serbian politicians who have commandeered a national television network to broadcast non-stop parliamentary proceedings are guilty of a ‘breathtaking political coup” that threatens the principle of public broadcasting says the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists.

The EFJ is supporting the protests of journalists in Serbia who are calling for the defence of genuine public service broadcasting and have condemned moves to provide compulsory transmission of all the work of the Parliament.

“Activities of the Parliament are important, but the public broadcaster must have editorial freedom and cannot be forced to transmit parliamentary sessions”, said EFJ General Secretary Aidan White. “If public broadcasting has any meaning at ball it is in its wider remit to inform, educate and entertain the entire community without being forced to serve only party political interests.”

The protest follow the decision two weeks ago when Radio Television Serbia was obliged by the Republic Broadcasting Agency to broadcast daily live transmission of parliamentary sessions from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

This action, which White described as a “breathtaking political coup,” totally changes the nature and the mission of the network, says the EFJ. “No other public broadcaster in Europe has had programming schedules imposed in this way,” said White.

The EFJ is one of many groups, such as the OSCE, calling on the Broadcasting Agency to re-examine its decision

This move is a dangerous backlash towards a simple state-run and limited vision of public broadcasting, says the EFJ. The EFJ supports the call of the unions in Radio Television of Serbia, including the Journalists’ Union of Serbia, to consider RTS as a public channel instead of a Parliamentary channel.

For more information contact the EFJ at + 32 2 235 22 00
The EFJ represents over 250,000 journalists in more than 30 countries

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