Source/Author: Hina and
Source/Photo: Croatian Parliament

A session of the parliamentary Committee on Media was held at the request of opposition members due to an interview with former HRT journalist Dragan Nikolić, who told the Istra24 portal that his documentary “Russian Wall” was removed from prime time on HTV1 in spring 2016, and after “compromise” processing, it was aired on HTV4, reported Hina.

According to Nikolić, the first case of censorship of foreign policy content at HRT occurred after the current editorial staff took over the News and Current Affairs Service (IMS) of HRT.

The President of the Croatian Journalists’ Association (CJA), Hrvoje Zovko, stated that it is incredible that three judgments of Croatian courts, including a judgment in a case initiated by HRT against him for statements about censorship at HRT, have been ignored. He also quoted the judgment in that case.

“The court considered the statements of witnesses and the defendant to be directly convincing and sincere, and based on them, it determined that the working atmosphere and environment at the plaintiff’s (HRT’s) premises in the period preceding the defendant’s controversial statements were such that they could lead to the conclusion of a certain degree of restriction of employees in expressing and exchanging opinions and ideas,” Zovko said.

He also mentioned statements from HRT officials that it is not censorship but editorial policy, or “program corrections.” Zovko reminded of testimonies about censorship at HRT published in a network campaign by the CJA and the Croatian Journalists’ Union during the “HRT for Everyone, Not Just Them” campaign in late 2021.

HRT Director General Robert Šveb said that HRT has been frequently accused of censorship for many years, emphasizing that no accusation has been proven in court. “There is no censorship at HRT, nor has HRT ever been sued or sued for censorship,” Šveb said.

He added that HRT has a clearly defined procedure for reporting censorship led by the Ethics Committee, and in the last ten years, only three reports have been received, the latest in 2023, from former HRT journalist Marko Stričević, due to an unpublished comment on the war in Ukraine in Dnevnik 3.

Minister of Culture and Media Nina Obuljen Koržinek said she was not satisfied with the way the session was convened and attended to express disagreement with what she sees as a repeated “political attack on HRT orchestrated by the united opposition.”

She also stated that she has been advocating for the independence of HRT and defending journalists and editors from political pressure for years, and she wants to continue doing so. Addressing the proposers of the discussion on censorship at HRT, she said that their claims of “court-confirmed censorship” would be defined as fake news by an independent fact-checker.

“This is a notorious lie. No one has been definitively convicted of censorship,” the minister said, concluding that facts should be adhered to.

After hours of debate on censorship at HRT, Mirela Ahmetović (SDP) proposed a conclusion stating that there is “reasonable suspicion of the existence of censorship and self-censorship at HRT,” and the Director-General was asked to submit a report within 90 days on the number of received reports of censorship and self-censorship and the measures to be taken. However, the proposed conclusion was rejected by the majority of Committee members.

Source: Hina and