Source/Author: CJA
Source/Photo: CJA

The Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA) is appalled by the appointment of Kazimir Bačić to the International Broadcasting Committee of the EBU. Kazimir Bačić is a former director of HRT and a suspect in a major corruption scandal. His tenure was marked by numerous scandals, dismissals of dissenting voices, censorship, and the marginalization of experts, leading to the unfortunate exodus of many colleagues from HRT. During Bačić’s tenure, a staggering 36 lawsuits were filed against journalists and media outlets, totaling over two million kuna in compensation claims. He even sued his own journalists: Hrvoje Zovko faced three lawsuits, one of which resulted in a defamation claim of 250 thousand kuna, and Sanja Mikleušević Pavić, then president of the CJA branch at HRT, was sued for 50 thousand kuna.

Bačić’s tenure was also marked by censorship in the Information Media Service (IMS) of HRT, as confirmed by three court rulings in favor of Hrvoje Zovko, whom HRT sued for statements about censorship – and lost. Bačić, as the then director, twice signed dismissal orders for journalist and editor Hrvoje Zovko, which the court deemed unlawful, dismissing the allegations against Zovko as false.

During Bačić’s tenure, HRT was awarded the CASE award in May 2021, by the coalition of European NGOs against SLAPP, for being the biggest SLAPP lawsuit abuser. Even the CJA was targeted by HRT lawsuits, amounting to 200 thousand kuna, making it a unique case globally where a public broadcaster sues a national journalistic organization. The costs incurred by such behavior of the director of the public media service in Croatia amount to millions, with immeasurable negative impacts on the free work of HRT journalists. Despite suspicions and dismissal, Bačić remained employed at HRT after his arrest for corruption revealed by an investigation by the USKOK and the police, during which he was held in investigative custody in Remetinec. Although the arrest of the CEO caused great damage to HRT’s reputation, Bačić was not sued for defamation; instead, he was, in fact, delegated to represent the institution in EBU bodies. HRT’s response to the Telegram.hr portal, stating that “Bačić has been elected multiple times and has been a member of that board since 2016” and that his election “was automatic,” seems surreal. A serious public broadcaster would be expected to remove him from all international bodies where he represents them, if not for SLAPP, then at least due to corruption allegations.

The decision by HRT management to support Bačić’s appointment is considered an insult to all subscribers and employees of HRT who work honestly and diligently without the privileges that the former director obviously enjoys. The CJA supports the demands of its branches at HRT that Kazimir Bačić be excluded from all international bodies and organizations where he represents HRT, and will officially request the EBU to annul this shameful decision.

For the Executive Board,

Dragutin Hedl, Vice President of CJA

Chiara Bilić, Vice President of CJA