Od desetak adresa kolegica i kolega iz HND-a, na koje sam prošloga tjedna poslao upit da li da prijavim policiji prijetnju:
sa samo dvije stigao mi je odgovor - da prijavim. Ipak, nisam to učinio jer me deprimirala kolegijalna nezainteresiranost kao što me do sada u više navrata, kada bih prijavljivao slične stvari, deprimirala policijska i državnoodvjetnička. Mogu se uzdati samo u Svevišnjeg, ako ga ima, i utjecaj međunarodnih adresa preko kojih ionako "usporavam približavanje RH euroatlantskim integracijama".
U ponedjeljak sam posalo mailove na više adresa u HND s pitanjima: što je s aktivnostima Zbora istraživačkih novinara, radi li se na pripremi Skupštine HND-a, izmjenama Statuta i Kodeksa časti, jesu li IO i SO održali sjednice povodom inicijative Povjerenstva za praćenje politike ravnopravnosti spolova u medijima (posebno, obzirom na izjave predsjednika Duke: - Mislim da su navodi iz predstavki točni, a u ponedjeljak će Izvršni i Središnji odbor HND-a raspravljati o njima - rekao je Duka, te napomenuo da će i Vijeće časti na prvom sastanku raspravljati o tom problemu. - Sankcije daje Vijeće časti, a krajnja mjera može biti isključenje.). Nitko mi na to ništa odgovorio nije. Samo sam iz tajništva Društva pozvan da dođem u četvrtak na svečanu podjelu novinarskih nagrada Hrvatskog novinarskog društva i nagrade Robert Schuman uz Svjetski dan slobode medija.
Pred kojih pol sata otvorim portal Jutarnjeg i vidim da je predsjednik Duka protestirao kod predsjednika Sabora Bebića zbog odluke saborskog Odbora za izbor i imenovanja da u Nacionalno vijeće za praćenje suzbijanja korupcije predloži ravnateljicu Hine Smiljanku Škugor-Hrnčević.
Neka! Ne treba tako olako prijeći preko odluke HDZ-a da svojim ljudima daje dodatne sinekure! I ne treba to povezivati sa činjenicom da je donedavni predsjednik HND-a i bivši novinar HINA-e Dragutin Lučić Luce dobio posao u državnoj firmi, savjetnika za medijske slobode direktora Vanje Sutlića. Brine se naš Luce, recimo, da Sanja Mikleušević-Pavić uživa potpunu uredničku slobodu u uređivanju svoje emisije i da joj zbog tretmana slučaja Pukanić, urednica Informativnog programa Hloverka Novak-Srzić ne smije uputiti ni poprijeki pogled, a kamoli smanjivati plaću.
A aktualni predsjednik HND-a, inače misli da politika najveći utjecaj na medije vrši baš u slučaju HINA-e gdje je Smiljanka Škugor - Hrnčević direktorica, a donedavni predsjednik bio novinar.
To je Duka jasno naveo u tekstu za Association of European Journalists:
By Zdenko Duka
The media in Croatia have developed greatly in terms of quality and diversity in recent years. Although the circulation of most individual newspapers has gone down, the number of newspapers is growing steadily, and with it the total number of readers. Croatian Radio and Television
(HRT) have kept their dominant position. Two new commercial TV stations have not yet fulfilled their market potential.
Yet it is apparent that the Croatian media are going through a serious crisis regarding their professional and ethical standards. Sensationalist journalism has become commonplace, with reporters often abandoning any pretence of objectivity or truthfulness in their pursuit of headlines and big audiences.
Overt political influence still casts a shadow over the media scene, although it is much less pronounced than it was before the sweeping reforms of the year 2000, which took national TV and a handful of large newspapers out of the hands of a handful of powerful political figures. However, private media ownership is now highly concentrated instead in the hands of two very large companies which dominate the newspaper market: Europa Press Holding, which is 50% owned by the German WAZ (Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung
) group and the Austrian publisher Styria.
Media independence is also under severe attack from a number of big commercial companies which emerged in the early 1990s as vehicles to advance the fortunes of certain influential figures from the political world. These figures now enjoy a dominant position within the economy, and have begun to use it to promote their own interests in the media. They exercise a significant degree of control over certain newspapers through their ability to grant or withdraw the advertising contracts which many publications rely on for their financial survival. For example, the large insurance company Osiguranje broke off its long-term advertising contract with Jutarnji list
, a daily newspaper, following critical articles which appeared about the company’s activities.
In these circumstances it is extremely hard for journalists to seek to act as the “conscience” of the society, since they are often under pressure to set aside the public interest in favour of the narrow commercial interests of media owners. That leads naturally to job insecurity and the habit of self-censorship.
The situation in Croatia’s local media, especially local radio stations, is especially troubling, since many of them are effectively run by local political interests. As a consequence these stations have failed to develop any real editorial independence and the journalists who work there are often pressured to conform to blatant political bias. Partisan reporting was especially evident in the blanket coverage of the illness of Ivica Račan
, a Croatian opposition leader and former prime minister, who died in May after three months of treatment. One radio station and one website even announced his death three weeks before he died.
The Croatian media have obtained a new degree of freedom from direct governmental and political party influence, thanks to the fact that most print media are now in private hands, as are two nation-wide TV channels: RTL Television
and Nova TV
. However, the state still owns Vjesnik
, a low circulation daily; it is responsible for appointments to Croatian Public Television (HRT); and it exercises effective control over HINA
, the Croatian News Agency
The problem of excessive party political influence on the media is especially serious in the case of the national news agency, HINA, which is examined here in more detail.
Case Study: HINA, Croatia’s National News Agency
Last year the situation in HINA provoked expressions of concern from many quarters, including the Croatian Journalists’ Association, the OSCE and European Federation of Journalists. The European Commission also identified the management of HINA as a political problem in its Report on Croatia on November 8 2006. That Report concluded that “the procedure of appointing HINA Managing Council members had many deficiencies”. HINA is the sole national news agency and so exerts considerable influence on other Croatian media.
According to the law on HINA, the Government must propose to Parliament four members for the HINA Managing Council, and a fifth member should be chosen from among the journalist employees of HINA. All five nominees must then be confirmed by the Parliament. The Managing Council should in turn elect HINA’s director and Editor in chief.
In 2006 the Government took a series of steps which ignored both the spirit and the letter of these formal procedures. In July its four nominations to HINA’s Managing Council were accepted by parliament; but the figures nominated faced accusations of conflict of interest, and some were seen as unqualified for the job because they lacked relevant experience. Critics said they were chosen in preference to other candidates who were clearly more competent and respected. For example, instead of appointing the former president of the Constitutional Court, Jadranko Crnić, the Parliament decided on a man, Dražen Jović, who had completed Law School only two years earlier.
The government’s non-transparent behaviour brought a storm of protest from all the opposition parties as well as the Croatian Journalists’ Association, who alleged that little-known and incompetent persons had been appointed simply in order to allow the ruling party easily to control the actions of the HINA director and editor in chief. But the Government and ruling party politicians rejected all appeals against their decisions. The Government, citing what appeared to be flimsy technical arguments, refused to implement the rules laid down by law for the selection of a fifth Council member, and proceeded to let the four-member Managing Council act for several months as though it was properly constituted.
Of crucial importance was the decision of this four-member Council, despite all the questions about its legitimacy, to appoint a new HINA general manager, effective from January 1, 2007.
The newly-elected general manager was a woman, Smilja Škugor Hrnčević, who had been well known as a prominent editor in the Tuđman era, when the media was forced to work under strict government controls. It was public knowledge that the President of the Republic, Stjepan Mesić, opposed her appointment. And the very next day the Government announced it would dismiss the HINA Council, citing the very arguments of its critics – that the Council was incomplete without its fifth member, the employees’ representative.
The end result was exactly what the opposition and the CJA had warned against: the Government had achieved its goal of having its preferred candidate as HINA general manager appointed, and it took steps to dissolve the improperly-constituted HINA Council after the event.
A new HINA Managing Council was appointed in February 2007, one month after the new general manager took up active duty. This time the Council also included the representative of HINA employees. But the new Council did not question the appointment of the general manager by the previous Council. All the politicking and confusion led to a long delay in the process of selecting an Editor in chief for HINA. The US State Department’s 2006 report on Human Rights in Croatia recorded that government officials “attempted to influence national television”. It also quoted s statement of protest by the Croatian Journalists Association, that freedom of the media “was jeopardised by the vague wording of the law on public media”.
The CJA has since continued to call urgently for new and transparent procedures for electing all the members of the HINA Managing Council to make it more public, democratic and transparent.
Conclusion and Future Action: The only way to safeguard media freedom in Croatia in the face of the political interventions described here is to remove the Government’s power to control any of them, including the national news agency HINA. Responsibility for internal regulation and editorial matters should be left to the media’s Managing Councils, which should be completely independent. The law needs to be revised to ensure that democratic standards are applied in their selection. The Government must not be allowed to make use of ambiguities in the law and conventions in this field for its own purposes.
EXTRACT FROM FEBRUARY 2008 UPDATE
Croatia Zdenko Duka
The issue of the political parties’ role in making appointments to the top jobs in Croatian National Public Television (HTV) has again come centre stage for journalists who are concerned about the fragile state of media freedom in the country.
In September last year the appointment of Hloverka Novak Srzić
as the News Program editor in chief of HTV brought a storm of protest from journalists, on account of her background as a senior TV editor during the era of Franjo Tudjman
, when public television was strictly under political control and journalists who strove to exercise independence suffered severely.
The concerns of journalist organisations have also been focused on the case of Željko Peratović, a freelance journalist whose apartment was searched by police in the middle of October. He was held in policy custody for one day and questioned on suspicion of revealing state secret on his Internet blog. Formal charges have not yet been brought against him.
AEJ Media Freedom Survey, Country reports, Croatia (Zdenko Duka)
Dakle, dalo bi se zaključiti da predsjednik Stjepan Mesić i dalje igra pozitivnu ulogu u zaštiti medijskih sloboda jer se suprotstavio imenovanju Smiljanke Škugor-Hrnčević za ravnateljicu HINA-e.
Naravno, nema relevantnih izjava ni materijalnih dokaza da je predsjednik Stjepan Mesić bio glavni pokrovitelj dolaska Vanje Sutlića na čelo HRT-a i da je amenovao Hloverku Novak-Srzić za urednicu IP HTV-a, pa se u dublje, u takve špekulacije ne upušta ni Miljenko Jergović, kada u zaštitu uzima Sanju Mikleušević Pavić:
Hloverka je, kao i direktor kuće Vanja Sutlić, politička osoba, takozvani komitetski kadar prekomandiran u medije. Oboma je novinarstvo u svim režimima bilo samo vođenje politike drugim sredstvima. Onaj koji ih je postavio, a možemo ga zvati Sanaderovim koliko i Mesićevim imenom, samo takvo je novinarstvo mogao imati na umu...
Sanader i Mesić neka se dogovore u čije ime Hloverka provodi teror, kao i u čije ime štiti lik i djelo Ive Pukanića.
I na koncu, hvala predsjedniku Duki što je spomenuo moj slučaj u izvješću AEJ-u i napomeuo kako protiv mene još nije podignuta optužnica. Nije Glavni državni odvjetnik Mladen Bajić, koji je SOA-i dao suglasnost da se krene na mene još ni obustavio predistražne radnje, a niti mi je vratio osobni novinski arhiv (između 2500 i 3000 dokumenata). Što po mojim predstavkama rade Vijeće za građanski nadzor sigurnosno-obavještajnih agencija i Odbor za unutarnju politiku i nacionalnu sigurnost, bolje je da i ne pitam jer kako kažu iz Odbora, a vezano za slučaj Mirjane P., Mladen Bajić profesionalno radi svoj posao. Dakle, ako je on dao suglasnost Karamarku da SOA i policija krenu protiv mene, on će biti taj koji će kazniti odgovorne, utvrdi li se da je bilo kršenja zakona u mome slučaju. Zamislite, kaznit' će sam sebe!