Public interests tailored for political powerful figures

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SARAJEVO, 10.09.2018- “Idriz Jakupovic”, a foundation for scholarships of high school and university students was established in 2014 with the head office in the city of Sanski Most. The situation on the field dictated the following activities with human people gathered around Ajdin Jakupovic, a doctor of dental medicine, great Maecenas, patron, and founder of the above-mentioned foundation.

Many humanitarian projects throughout BiH followed accordingly. Public in local community identified and recognized the efforts of the people working at “Idriz Jakupovic”, foundation, as they were speak- ing and spreading the words about human values throughout the cities and towns, including Sanski Most, Prijedor, Mostar, Travnik, Jajce, Gradiška, Bugojno, Kupres, Maglaj, Velika Kladuša, Banja Luka etc, making thus the bridges of friendship even beyond BiH. Recently, a contract on cooperation with two times European handball champions, namely HC Zagreb, was signed. Public and citizens are supported regardless to their religious or ethnic background for Id, Easter or Christmas (for both Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics followers) holidays.

The estimated value of financial support regarding former and present activities of the foundation amounts around BAM 200.000.00. You probably ask yourselves, what does this introduction have to do with the given topic? Although the foundation founder takes part and actively participates (both directly and indirectly) in financing a local RTV in Sanski Most, this media house has never released or broadcasted reports regarding the humanitarian activities implemented by Adnan Jakupovic and his associates. RTV Sana is a public media house and it is hard to believe that in four years time, they couldn’t find a term, time or space to release or broadcast reports on humanitarian activities conducted by the above-mentioned foundation. “Idriz Jakupovic” foundation has never allowed political interference, influence or impact of any nature into their work.

Besides, the foundation cooperates with individuals and associations that are disfavored and disgraced by local governing officials and authorities, therefore, this, to some extent, determines the relationship and attitude of local media towards the foundation. The general stance of people, gathered around “Idriz Jakupovic” foundation is that they still want to continue being at service to all citizens in Sanski Most, without any political background as this determines the future of local radio and television station. All of this takes place in the municipality whose official authorities shall allocate around BAM 389.000.00 to RTV Sana, which is an increasing amount comparing to last year implementation by BAM 10.000.00.

The bad experience was also witnessed by the Civil Association for better Sanski Most (originally Udruženje građana za bolji Sanski Most) since they were not allowed to advertise on the local radio station, without any reasonable explanation provided by the radio and television station officials. Radio Sanski Most has never allowed programs regarding the democratization of local community with a focus on the current situation in Sanski Most. If we are aware that the above mentioned association has openly been criticizing local official gov- erning authorities, it becomes clear that local media in Sanski Most, although fi- nanced by the means of tax payers “listens” to the voice of powerful local politicians instead. Can we speak, in such tailored and ordered media space, about the public in- terests, transparent financing, employment etc in accordance with affirmative and positive legislative?

When we talk about the financing of public and local media houses in Una – Sana municipalities, we must outline that they could hardly prevail and sustain without the municipal financial support. This situation can be considered as a beneficiary for most local politicians and their interests. We must emphasize municipalities that had lost their local public radio and TV stations long ago.

Buzim radio station is locked for some time, so the real media war is battled on local web sites. Pursuant to good old custom, the internet fights between “ours” and “theirs” (AKA close to local governing official authorities) with the involvement of the opponents of the local government and with occasional opposi- tion interference, has become a common occurrence.

Local media picture in the city of Kljuc is also very poor. In this particular mu- nicipality, the local radio station has been “on infusion”, so its program content is often based on the music played by local and international singers and groups. It would be unreal to expect total complying of public interests, with rather mod- est financial budget and number of employees, old and inadequate equipment etc. As far as financing process of the radio station is concerned, in this municipality with the number of unemployed people being greater than those who have jobs at present, the fact that publically released general dissatisfaction of the few employed persons, really speaks for itself.

The signal of the local radio station in Bosanski Petrovac could hardly be broadcasted throughout the local community. Even though they are being partially financed from the local budget and because of poor signal, we could talk about the discrimina- tion of listening audience in these particular areas, because the voice of local radio speaker has never been heard in these areas.

Public media space in Bihac is also pretty complicated. RTV Bihac employees and staff have been very angry with local and official governing authorities, which had been “postponing” necessary payments, as part of the financial budget amount (“cake”) that should have been paid to all employees and staff of the above men- tioned media house. And while journalists had been indicating the postponement of their monthly wages (salaries) and very difficult position they were in, the city mayor issued a warning release clearly outlining the budget tax payers money shall, in the forthcoming period, be distributed and spent transparently and that there will be no new employments (employing based on political party preferences) in media houses and public companies owned and managed by the City of Bihac. No particular dissatisfaction could have been heard since May last year, when RTV Bihac employees and staff publically expressed their dissatisfaction. As far as the transparent money transferring is concerned, the City of Bihac official authorities made a step forward. With few clicks only, one could have full access to information and details, regarding the forthcoming financial grants planned to be allocated to RTV Bihac informative and news purposes. According to this basis, the last payment was made on 6 March 2018 and the amount transferred was BAM 28.165, 58.

It is interesting to notice that the budget amount allocated by the Sanski Most municipal officials is greater than one paid by the City of Bihac. We could discuss for days about local web sites in Bihac, ethic code obeying, finan- cial issues etc. Only a few have sincere desires and will to release and provide correct information and news to the public. According to the information I attained from my female colleague from Cazin, employees at RTV Cazin media house cannot com- pliment and be satisfied with better monthly wages (salaries) and earnings either. However, their salaries (monthly wages) are regular, paid on time and maximum attention is directed to general public interests.

When you talk with citizens of the most populated municipality of Una – Sana Canton, generally there is a notable difference in opinions and stances provided. Some citizens consider that local media house is biased towards the governing authorities as this thesis can in fact be noticed in reports related to the activities of the municipal mayor and his administration. There have been many complaints directed against the work of public media houses in Velika Kladusa as well. Non – transparency and biasing are among the most out- lined complaints.

Animadverts are directed against the work of municipal mayor claiming that he, along with his associates, positioned “their loyal people” in the local media house. We wouldn’t go wrong if we say that this represented the resump- tion of the previous and past story, only with different characters and parties being involved. We are all familiar with the fact that we live in an environment where the municipal mayor and his political party make the direct influence on local media houses and their work in Una – Sana canton as this has been going on for years.

The fact that this influence is rapidly growing is what worries everybody. It is obvious that auto censorship is in the close tie with the story on the financing of lo- cal media houses. Transparent spending of budget money and adoration of public interests is thus put on the margins as far as this issue is concerned.

This text is a part of E-Bulletin– sixth edition of special serial of BHN online bulletin implemented through the “Media and Public Reputation” (origin. “Mediji i javni ugled”) project, also representing a contribution to public debate regarding the transparency of media ownership and upholding and encouraging the passing of set of laws aimed to advance media field and information market in BiH.


Senudin Safić, BHN Bulletin E-journalist, Sarajevo, 10/09/2018