Financing public media service is investment, not cost


PODGORICA, 02.10.2018. – Financing the Public media service is not an expense, but an investment into democracy and society, it is concluded at the round table “Public Media Service in Montenegro – Financing, Governance and Regulation”


Senior consultant of the European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Boris Bergant said that the financing of the public service must be stable and sustainable. He also believes that there is no public service without political independence. He said that the public service must be different in the offer, and that it must cover all areas of citizens’ interest. The fact that they are public service, he says, means that the product must be verified and credible, and the program open, responsible and innovative.

“Financing the Public media service is not a cost, it’s an investment in creativity, people, thinking. Public service is not just information, it’s a cultural center”, said Bergant.

The Acting Director General of the RTCG, Bozidar Sundic, said that “the main goal is to provide sustainable finances and independence, in order to have a European public service in the interest of all citizens”.

“Stable and adequate funding is crucial for the public service, and it is necessary to clearly define the extent of content that is produced on all platforms, and the funding should be proportionate to the provided services. For many years, RTCG faced a lack of finance, laws and models of financing”, said Sandic. 
He recalls that RTCG is financed with 0.3 percent of GDP, with additional marketing revenues, with public revenues accounting for 90 percent of total. Due to GDP growth, he said, the increase in public revenues of 10% is expected for the next year. Šundić said that the earlier model of financing from the subscription proved unsustainable.
The Vice President of the Trade Union of Media of Montenegro, Nevenka Ćirović, warned about the lack of responsibility of the members of the RTCG Council. “We are looking for a model to ensure the independence of the RTCG Council, because it is, as it is claimed, a condition for the stability of the RTCG. At the same time, social actors do not require the introduction of a system of responsibility for the same Council”, said Ćirović.
The Council is responsible for the current situation in the RTCG, as Ćirović underlined, because it is the one who makes the final decisions on both financial and program documents.
“The Council must also bear the consequences for decisions, not only to seek a safeguard mechanism for their autonomy. For the redundancy of employees, the Council is also responsible, because it allowed earlier managements to bring an enormous number of employees to RTCG, especially from the closed media, but, in that case, we do not have any answers to whether how many employees were needed. We are now in a situation where the surplus of employees is between 150 and 200 people”, said Ćirović.

Team leader of the Regional Project of Support to Public Media Services in the Western Balkan countries, Vojislav Raonic said that the problems of public services in the region are similar and that they mainly refer to financing, management model and capacities, which include equipment and employees.

Otherwise, the goal of the project is to contribute to the reform and professional development of public media services in the Western Balkans, in order to encourage the production of pluralistic, independent and credible program content.

Representative of the NGO Media Center, Dusko Vukovic, said that funding from the budget is always related to the perception that the public service is a state media.

“It should be avoided that forces outside the Public Service are influencing this”, Bergant said.

Radka Bečeva, EBU Director of the Center for Relations with Members in Central and Eastern Europe, said that it is very important to explain to citizens how the role of the public service is and why we should invest in it., Podgorica, 03/10/2018