BRUSSELS – MEPs sent a letter to the Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović and members of the BiH Presidency Milorad Dodik and Željko Komšić, expressing great concern about the survival of the Public Service Broadcaster BHRT in BiH and urging the BiH authorities to consider the allocation of a special help package for the support of the Public Broadcasting system in BiH, embracing BHRT, RTV FBiH and RTRS.
It is stated BHRT has played a vital role during COVID-19 informing citizens about official announcements, state measures and important updates, acting as a media hub of official information and distributing it to all private media, schooling children and providing diverse content addressed to all groups and segments in society.
“The significant increase of BHRT audiences and the trust in the broadcaster have proven its crucial role in the society”, MEPs wrote.
However, they pointed out that the public service broadcaster is estimated to be losing around 10 to 20% of its income monthly due to the inability of people to pay electricity bills amidst the COVID-19 crisis.
“The BHRT income has already been insufficient being generated through an agreement with only one of the three electric companies in BiH and only on the territory of the Federation. This difficult financial situation has been even further exacerbated through the drastic drop of advertising revenues during COVID-19 due to the absence of sporting events and the crisis”, it is stated and added that this situation seriously threatens the existence of BHRT and its ability to deliver its remit to the society is jeopardized.
MEPs underlined that in the context of the second serious wave of the virus in Europe, Public Service Media are expected to play an even bigger role in society.
“BHRT will be expected to ensure schooling for children, to send its crew with a risk for infection in the field to gather crucial information for the citizens, to provide entertaining programmes to the people during the lockdown. In addition, the broadcaster will have to strengthen its security and disinfection measures in order to ensure the safety of its staff and continuation of its operations”, MEPs wrote.
It is added that all these unplanned demands, financial deficiencies and additional costs the broadcaster has to cover from a continuously diminishing income.